Development of Civilization Essay
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Sample Essay on Development of Civilization
The developments of the Western World from 1800-1900 can be best described as the “dynamic age of material prosperity”. Building on earlier Western developments, including the scientific revolution, industrialization brought massive changes to the West’s economy and society. With new industries, new sources of energy, and the development of new goods came a second Industrial revolution that transformed the human environment creating rapid change n the 19th century. The struggle to industrialize, to create appropriate new political forms, and to alter traditional family life would result in the emergence of mass society, and the development of capitalist and market relations in both hemispheres of the world.
Between 1800-1900 Europe expanded and the process of transformation throughout the world replaced the agricultural society with a urban, industrialized, technocratic society.
Role of Technology
In the 19th century most of the European states had already a developed system of colonialism in Africa and Asia that was essential for the development of industry, as the colonies became the customers of the metropolitan products produced on the base of raw materials brought from colonies. The struggle for the suppliers of the raw materials was essential in this period of time, because the existence of suppliers would guarantee the prosperity of industrial production and goods exchange. As nearly all of the countries of Europe became free from the feudal system of relations (the last one was Austro-Hungarian Empire in late 1840ies and Russia in early 1860ies, where the economical and social reforms on the transition to capitalist form of relations began the latest in Europe), there appeared a need in the rapid development of the production which could be realized only with the introduction of new technologies in every sphere of industry, in order to ease or sometimes even totally substitute the labor of a man. It became possible with the invention of the steam power, steam engine and steam-based transportation-locomotive. The impact of these inventions were tremendous, as most of these engines had the power of dozen horse powers and increased the efficiency of the man’s labor in dozens and hundred times, as well as they made the net value of the production cheaper that was important as well. It changed the whole concept of the production and industry, now the plant-owners were more interested in ordering the most technically innovative and productive machines, rather than skillful workers, because even a child could manage those machines. It changed the employment in most of industrial countries as well, because factory-owners were more interested in hiring child’s and woman’s labor as it was cheaper and the same effective on new machines. With international commercial contracts increasing, largely through the Western merchant activity and shipping, enhanced now by major technological innovations in the transportation field, notably the steamship, railroad, and telegraph, resulted in the West as a new world power.
Role of Politics
Social and economical contradictions that existed in the nineteenth century were the perfect soil for the development of the new political and philosophical ideas. It was nationalism, socialism, scientific communism and the further grounds for the development of fascist ideology. It was the time when the working class felt its unity and power and began to struggle for its rights as the result such organizations as trade unions were established, meetings and demonstrations became a common thing as well as the questions about emancipation of women were introduced. Most of states agreed to separate church from the state officially and not officially, that caused a liberalization of people’s consciousness as well. Governments intervened to legislate on the provision of schools, provide funds and appoint inspectors in the more backward countries of southern and Eastern Europe, which now followed where France and Germany had led the way. Success in science, medicine, biology, technology made people to change the views on lots of things and made them believe that they were the masters of their will here on Earth as well as it made them to believe that science and technology works only for good of the human civilization.
The industrial-style government which introduced by Western nations had considerably more contact with ordinary people that any other government had ever before. Ordinary people, the middle class were able to hold onto land, they dominated production, and dictated social and cultural changes. People benefited justly from their work, an essential equality would prevail, and the historical class struggle would end as class levels would be eliminated. Socialism created the democratic political system.
It is of importance to note that the industrial revolution had a contributed to the various social and economic changes in the society, which in turn would drastically influence the nature of politics let alone the purposes and structure of existing governments that became apparent already in the 1830s. The new governments would try to focus on the economic development, publicly-funded education, and various social welfare projects that would create more government supports from various social strata. The quick economic advances and changes would contribute to the impoverishment of skilled workers while at the same contributing to the expansion of the overall corporate output, as more and more functions formerly performed by humans was performed by machines and tools. Such technological advancements contributed to the concentration of the population in urban centres and that in turn contributed to the understanding and realization of the need for numerous public reforms. The utilitarian and egalitarian ideas started to gain more ground as urbanization took place in major countries that experienced Industrial revolution (Peter, 221).
It is of importance to note that the advent of the steam power and various industrial processes namely the printing contributed to the mass media creation as represented by the newspaper and book publishing. Political systems thus attempted to raise literacy, while individuals demanded mass political involvement and participation. The USA would adopt universal white male suffrage in 1828, which resulted in the election of the US president Andrew Jackson. The masses would then create various political parties that would attempt to get to power with the help of common citizens. The UK, on the other hand passed a Reform Ac of 1832 which addressed the urbanization lack of political involvement and widely expanded the electorate and contributed to the creation of various modern political parties. The Act of 1832 contributed to the formation of the political system and political reforms that the country had in the XX century. France, experienced the so called July Revolution hat would widen existing franchise and contribute to the creation of the constitutional monarchy in the country. Industrial revolution contributed to the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands, helping Belgium to become a constitutional monarchy in 1831. Switzerland also adopted a set of liberal reforms in the mid ‘30s of the XIX century which affected the country’s political situation in the next century. Ultimately by the early 1850s, Europe would experience a set of numerous reforms that contributed to the mass emigration to the USA, South Africa and Australia (Ashton, 75).
Speaking about different political theories that developed during the industrial revolution, I would like to note that they were both capitalist and Marxist in nature.
Capitalist theory was inspired by the advent of the enlightenment and relied heavily on the intellectual pool and framework that existed in Europe. Capitalism stressed the importance of practical application of the growing body of scientific knowledge and competition which actually contributed to the creation of steam engine, mass production, mechanization, automation and assembly line. Capitalism was inspired by Adam’s Smith’s The Wealth of Nations treatise and encouraged countries to engage actively in trade and cooperation.
Marxist theories were developed primarily by Marx and Engels (Hobsbawm 24). Marx believed the industrialization and the industrial revolution was a normal dialectical progression of feudal societies as a necessary step towards the development of capitalism. Capitalism was viewed by Karl Marx not as an evil but rather as a prerequisite for the formation of socialism and ultimately communism. Marx was against indefinite reliance on capitalist models since industrialization, in his opinion fragmented and polarized the society in to at least two classes and several strata, namely bourgeoisie and proletariat.
Bourgeoisie was viewed as an unnecessary middle man who owned the means of production, yet would not themselves create value for the society or a chosen community. Bourgeoisie, was seen as class of robbers who would take the difference from the value created by the proletarian (working class) and the costs incurred in production. By removing bourgeoisie, the company would likely manage to cut costs and possess greater efficiency since it would be the workers who would own factories and the land (Deane 140).
The proletariat on the other hand is classified as the working class who does the actual work (provides labour) in order to create value for the society from the means of production owned by bourgeoisie. According to the labour theory of value, the relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is inherently parasitic, i.e. bourgeoisie is seen as living off the labour provided by the proletariat and becoming excessively rich through exploitation of the proletarian’s labour.
Marx believed that once the conditions of the proletariat become worse and worse, which actually was the case during the industrial revolution as the workers could afford nothing more but the slumps, the proletariat would develop class consciousness and revolt against the small stratum as formed by bourgeoisie and eventually capture the means of production thus creating socialist and communist state.
Role of Economics
The development of the production and market relations are integral components of each other and with the growing wealth of business, their interests began to penetrate into politics as well, because they have to get the support and ensure their stability and prosperity from the side of government. This was relatively new in the 19th century for the European civilization but it’s a characteristic feature of an industrial capitalism state. These contradictions, mostly economical caused the massive waves of revolutions and wars for independence in both Americas. The process of liberalization of the Latin and South America took a longer time, as it was populated by relatively diverse people, than first thirteen North American colonies. The result of such process was the establishment of republican states all over the continent, which in fact were military dictatorships that defended the interests of the richest circles of landowners. Rise of the Western world brought to light the importance of an efficient economic organization that guarantees a wide latitude of property rights and both incentives and protection for economic growth.
The political processes and economical processes in one separate country or in a region in general cannot be viewed separately, as they form the whole system of relations. Those processes brought to the prosperity of a certain part of each ethnical group, and they beginning to defend their interests as well the sense of national consciousness with the rest of the representatives of the same ethnical group started to defend their rights for the self-determination as a nation. As it’s well known the term nation can be applied only to an ethnical group in the period of industrialization and existing capitalist form of relations. The waves of nationalism were the key factors in the establishment of German state, Italy, South American colonies (but here the major factor was the pursuit for economical independence from Spain as well). These processes of self-determination as state and nation had a positive impact on the society of those countries as they got the right for self government and right to solve their internal issues themselves.
Throughout this period in history, the Western society went through a series of changes. A combination of political and society revolutions as well as the development of industrialization spread throughout society. New cultural styles developed, some challenging 18th century Enlightenment thought and some building on it through scientific research and political theory. A new social class developed in the Industrial Working class which sought to reduce the barriers between themselves and the wealthy land owners. A series of diplomatic upheavals accompanied internal change. New states rose to power- Germany and the United States, and at the end of this era, a new alliance system brought the West to war. However, the greatest change to the Western world was industrialization. This transformed political and economic thoughts with the creation of radical technology and economic structures.
Hobsbawm, E.J., Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution, Prentice Hall, 2003.
Deane, Phyllis, The First Industrial Revolution, McGraw Hill, 2002.
Peter, N. The Industrial Revolution in World History (Essays in World History), Barrons books, 2002.
Ashton, T.S. The Industrial Revolution, 1760-1830 (OPUS S.), NY random House, 2002.