Industrial revolution marks the transition where people moved from manual agriculture and production of various commodities into the use of machineries. This era resulted in enormous changes in all phases of life, that is social, economic and political, resulting in new ideologies that shaped history. These ideologies include liberalism, conservatism, and socialism which also formed a basis on the laws to be followed by people in a country and government involvement in development.
In my position, the industrial revolution took the liberalism ideology which created enormous changes despite resistant from the conservatism who insisted on the status quo. Liberalism in the industrial sector also influenced economics and politics which resulted in various policies that for example led to the widening of the gap between the poor and the rich that is capitalism. This paper offers a comprehensive discussion of liberalism during the industrial revolution in Europe during the eighteenth century, using evidence to back up my arguments in this position.
I sided with liberalism based on the fact that it was the major ideology at that time due to the increase in capitalism that resulted in a great gap between the poor and the rich. This ideology drew on the psychological understanding that individual liberty, the theories of natural law and utilitarianism greatly influenced progress (Hatt & Ross, 1999). Individual liberty allowed people to choose their own ways of doing things despite how bad they were, in order to achieve their goals. This type of liberalism focused on total economic and civil liberty which granted people the right to sell goods, services, and labor to whoever they wanted with no restriction from the government.
Liberalism which required the government to leave industrialists alone and focus on other issues such as the development of infrastructure received a lot of attention at the time of industrial revolution. The government was also required to maintain law and order and involve in controlling international factors that would have interfered with the business of industrialists. Liberalism was both political and economic which made it popular and in countries such as the Europe where it was adopted it resulted in numerous positive and negative impacts. The type of liberalism that existed during the industrial revolution was known as classical liberalism where industrialist and other rich members of the society had the upper hand in almost everything (Hatt & Ross, 1999). This allowed them to accumulate a lot of wealth at the cost of the ordinary people hence increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Increase in the cost of living was as a result of liberalism where industrialists and business people set the prices of important commodities at their own prices without consideration of key factors such as wages of the poor. Due to less government interference, these industrialists and business people paid their employees low wages which would not allow them to grow but end up spending all their savings. Many employees were not able to acquire even proper housing which resulted in the rise of slums. Low government interference also led to the abuse of workers in these industries by being forced to work for long hours under poor working conditions (Hatt & Ross, 1999).
The industries did not employ proper waste management programs and processes hence caused pollution in cities and other populated areas. This pollution is said to have caused numerous health issues and the depth of plants and animals living in areas around these industries. As for the rest, the filth, bris, and offal heaps, and the pools in the streets are common to both quarters, and in the district now under discussion, another feature most injurious to the cleanliness of the inhabitants, is the multitude of pigs walking about in all the alleys, rooting into the offal heaps, or kept imprisoned in small pens (Engels 1844).
The government also did not come up with rules and regulations which would prohibit child labor in these industries. Moreover, due to the harsh economic times, many children were forced to work so as to help their parents in raising money for meeting various needs. Employees in these industries often ended up being fired unfairly especially after suffering injuries at work.
Liberalism during the industrial revolution also aimed at industrial efficiency, where workers were just viewed as components of production. At this time, accumulating wealth was more important than equality. Though good working conditions and decent wages would motivate employees, they were viewed asa barrier to efficiency and factors that would decrease the company’s profits (Hatt & Ross, 1999). The development of machines which would substitute employees became a nightmare and resulted in high rates of unemployment which ended up increasing crime in the society.
For example, in the textile industry, skilled textile artisans were replaced by machines which were operated by cheap unskilled people. Now, if by using a machine, we can get our coat with less labour than we got it before, the machine is a desirable thing (Cobbet 1830). Many factories and companies adopted machines and such developments helped the company save on labor and were adopted without any consideration of their impact in the society. Such actions resulted in violent demonstrations which contributed to loss of lives.
Classical liberalism during the industrial revolution ushered in modern liberalism which is practiced today after numerous demonstration and push from activists for the government to intervene and exercise regulation. The period that marked this transition was also marked by the rise of the need for equality between men and women and the protection of human rights. Feminism allowed women to fight for a social, political and economic quality and gave rise to women leaders who helped secure the place of women in the society in the modern day (Hatt & Ross, 1999). The need to establish and protect human rights allowed the government to ensure that industrialists and other business people did not violate their freedoms or abuse their employees.
Classical liberalism had to evolve due to the negative impacts it brought into the society. Modern liberalism ushered in collectivism where people had to be treated according to their rights and freedoms. A Universal Declaration of Human rights was established that included the right to take part in government, the right to be treated equally by the law in the land, the freedom of thought and worship and the right to own property.
Liberalism was seen as the best choice since it would lead to the development and transformation of the country while compared to others abroad. Countries which adopted socialism or the impact of conservatism immense found themselves adopting liberalism due to the growth and development it brought in the society. Negative impacts of liberalism that were felt in countries like the Europe ushered in modern liberalism which aimed at ensuring equality thus promoting equal and standard development.
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