Factory Workers During The Industrial Revolution

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When the French Third Estate stormed the Bastille in 1789, they envisioned a country in which they were no longer trodden upon by the First and Second Estates. They envisioned a nation where they had a major voice in politics and had a prominent role in the economy. By successfully overthrowing the French government and installing their own, they succeeded; albeit for only a short time. Little did they know that within a few decades, the same social hierarchy would be reinstalled during the Industrial Revolution, except the lower classes would be fighting for sanitation instead of bread. Over the course of the nineteenth century, various arguments emerged of how to improve the lives of European workers during the Industrial Revolution. Arguments…show more content…
While these claims are valid, it is important that as Marx and Engels were German social theorists, it is natural for them to theorize and come up with possible social experimentations, which explains their completely revolutionary idea. However, it is important to recognize that Marx and Engels did indeed have a point. The upper classes during the Industrial Revolution (in most cases, factory and business owners) exercised an unbelievable amount of power over the lower classes (the factory workers), especially in industrial cities. Factory workers worked extremely long hours in deplorable conditions for very low pay. The death rate in factories, especially among children, was extremely high. The upper class did little about this; they did not care for such issues. Marx and Engels believed the only way for the lower classes to improve their lives was to lead a revolution, which would essentially make them equal with the upper classes, which was known as a communist society. However, some did agree to an extent. Flora Tristan writes in 1843 that all lower class workers should unite to make themselves heard in society (5). Mrs. Tristan argues that all workers are…show more content…
As Britain during this time was capitalist, its economy was laissez faire, or free market. This meant the British government scarcely interfered with the economy. This may have led to the massive class disparity between the classes and the deplorable conditions lower classes worked in. However, many believed that Adam Smith’s proposed invisible hand would work its magic once again. David Ricardo, an English economist, writes in 1817 in opposition to the Poor Laws. He states the Poor Law's purpose was to make the rich poorer, thus going against the fair and free competition of the capitalist free market (2). While this argument has historical statistical backing, it is important to recognize that as an English economist, Mr. Ricardo would naturally be inclined to call for a completely free market economy, as England’s economy was capitalist, and being an Englishman, he would want for that to continue. However, Mr. Ricardo brings up an argument that is very important. By interfering in the economy, and by possibly improving the conditions of lower classes during the Industrial Revolution, a government would have no choice but to taint the free market laissez faire economy. This could have drastic impacts on the nation as a whole, as the economy would
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