There has been two industrial revolutions. The first one, initiated in Britain at the end of the XVIIIth century, was based on the steam engine and the beginning of industry. The second one emerged out of intense scientific activity in the late XIXth century, and brought modern civilization as our parents knew it. Many think that the end of the 20th century has seen the rise of a third industrial revolution, based on computers and IT.

The British (and as far as I know all first world countries) industrial revolution actually started with an agrarian revolution, The agrarian revolution left a lot of countrysiders landless so they moved to towns (and later cities) in search of jobs, conurbations were also made possible by the increase of food production.

At the same time there was also a transport revolution which saw transport change from horseback, through canals to railways. Also, it should be noted that it was only now that Britain dicovered how to make paved roads, only 1700 years after the Romans had come over and shown us (when they retreated we seemed to forget how to do it) but (unlike the romans) we still haven't to this day worked out how to make a road straight.

these two revolutions were what made the industrial revolution possible. An influx of people, a surplus of food and reliable transport allowed the first factories to appear in the cities, often using near slave labour as worker's rights hadn't been invented yet, and were powered at first using waterwheels but later using steam engines.

The fourth revolution to occur at the same time was the medical revolution. The death rate dropped dramatically as medicine made incredible advances. Before the revolutions the world still didn't know about the inside of the human body (it was considered unethical to cut up a cadaver but by the end of the 19th century germs had been discovered by Louis Pasteur and viral vaccination was introduced by Edward Jenner. Anesthetics had been invented, namely chloroform and nitrous oxide, the former was allegedly discovered by a group of British scientists who sniffed various chemicals until they found themselves lying under a table. And amputations were no longer performed by the local barber. All of these things creating a profession where the best surgeons had skilled hands instead of big biceps, a sharp saw and a mean right hook. The drop in deaths was remarkable and caused a sudden increase in population which did not subside until the end of the 19th century when the populace started to have less children. This is commonly held as the end of the industrial revolution. It was not until now that the working classes were given voting rights and laws were brought into place to create better working conditions. The name given to this period of development by anthropologists is a demographic transition, a phase that the third world is now going through.


themusic: I do not quite understand what your argument is here:
If you are arguing that the improvements in medicine predated the industrial revolution then you are definitely wrong. Louis Pasteur did not create his 'Germ theory of Disease' until the mid 19th century and infectious disease declined at a similar time, e.g. Edward Jenner discovered his vaccine for smallpox in 1796 and in the process created a new word: virus. The case you describe of the guy who removed the pump handle must also have occured in the mid 19th century as Cholera only became an epidemic following the mass migration of the people to the cities and the working classes using communal water pumps and toilets (often placed next to each other in the courtyards of the cheap buildings called 'tenements'.
If you are arguing that the population became immune to diseases such as smallpox, cholera and tuberculosis then yet again I assure you that you are mistaken as they are all controlled by vaccines although cholera becomes a non-entity with good sanitation which brings me to my next point:
If you are arguing that it was not the medical revolution alone but also the sanitational revolution that lowered the death rate then I agree with you whole heartedly and I admit that it was my mistake to overlook this factor but I do not have enough information on this aspect to create a decent enough writ-up about it.
Finally, If you are trying to say that the advances in medicine have made no improvement to our lives and are just there as a placebo when we 'face the agony and terror of disease', then the next time you have an illness that you cannot cure by common sense (rabies is a good one) come visit me and I will say 'God bless you', apply 10 leeches to suck out the 'bad blood' and then hacksaw off your right leg with no anesthetic, If the rabies doesn't kill you then the gangrene surely will.
Much as daz eddy's writeup interests me, and much as I agree with his notions of the first two revolutions fueling the Industrial Revolution--agrarian revolution, and transport revolution--I'm not so sure about his fourth: medical revolution.

When people were thrown together in the less than ideal conditions of cities in nineteenth century England, disease was rife. Especially in the inferno of the industrial revolution--the first 25 years of the century--people who had lived and died within miles of where they were born, came close to people from the other end of the country, if not the world.

Any immunity developed in one's locale was not effective against germs from elsewhere.

There is much scholarship on this point, but a point made quite clear, is that the decline in infectious disease pre-dated the development of what daz eddy describes.

What we call childhood diseases today, were once anything but. After a period of early virulence, they have receeded into a kind of symbiotic relationship with us. All susceptible people, quite simply, die. Those who survive have, or have developed, immunity.

Along with the inevitable rise of immunity, there is also a revolution of sanitation. There is the story of the Pump Handle: An epidemiologist, whose name escapes me at the moment, through early cluster studies, realised that cholera, or maybe dysentery, was centered around a certain water pump.

Taking his beliefs in his own hands, he removed the pump handle. The incidence of disease fell off dramatically.

Simple, common sense measures have wider effects than any specific medical tecnology. And the widespread application of some medical technologies have the opposite of the hoped for effect: witness the resistance to antibiotics.

We all have a need to believe that technology, even just knowledge will help us when we face the agony and terror of disease, especially unknown disease. But so often, it is our very knowledge, technolgy, our drive to profit that bring agony and terror upon us.


daz eddy: Noding online, as I did above, is always the most exciting, but does not always provide the most clarity.

I am arguing that it was primarily the sanitational revolution that ended the widespread ravages of infectious disease. I attempted to make the point that the major decline in infectious disease happenned before the medical revolution.

Infectious Diseases became a endemic with the start of the Industrial Revolution--you throw people together, and without immunity, they get sick, especially if you mix in unsanitary, and crowded living conditions: Victorian England.

Finally, I am not arguing that the advances in medicine have made no improvement to our lives and are just there as a placebo when we 'face the agony and terror of disease'. On the contrary, members of my family, and I myself, have received great personal benefit from medicine, and its great advances in the last century.

I argue only that the invdividual interventions of medicine were of little benefit to the population as a whole during the Industrial Revolution, and that the major ravages were over by the time the Medical Revolution had gotten underway. It is resonably obvious, I believe, that for a population as a whole, common sense measures of sanitation have the greatest efficacy in elimitating infectious diseases.

I think an argument can be, and is, made that the use of antibiotics in the treatment of otitus media--ear ache--is a major contributor to the rise of resistence to antibiotics by bacteria.

There is a notion I learned in Economics 100 years ago--the only thing that I remember:

The FALLACY of COMPOSITION: What is characteristic of the individual, is not characteristic of the aggregate

What is good for the individual person, is not good for the population. Isn't this always the problem: Do we seek to benefit only our own, or people in general? And if we do benefit our own--what effect does it have on everyone else?

A good exposition of the symbiotic relationship between man and bacteria can be found in Hans Zinsser, RATS, LICE, AND HISTORY.

The Industrial Revolution 1700-1900

The First Industrial Revolution: Textiles and Steam: 1712-1830

  • 1712: The Newcomen steam engine.
    (We Goin'? Transport closes shop)
  • 1733: John Kay invents the flying shuttle.
    (begins to think about starting a band named after his favorite book Steppenwolf)
  • 1764: James Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny.
    (Leads to Jenny discovering the need for Dramamine)
  • 1769: Richard Arkwright patents the water frame.
    ( The pictures keep falling out and getting wet)
  • 1769: James Watt patents a series of improvements on the Newcomen engine making it more efficient.
    (Watts zzahhup, new co Maaaaannn?)
  • 1779: Samuel Crompton perfects the spinning mule.
    (Now Jenny has something to ride when she travels and Dramamine sales double)
  • 1785: Edmund Cartwright patents a power loom.
    (It's a veritable Bonanza)
  • 1793: Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin.
    (A cheap drunk but it leaves you with a dry mouth and Martinis keep shrinking)
  • 1807: Robert Fulton begins steamboat service on the Hudson River.
    (Getting under those ships to rotate the rudders is a bitch.)
  • 1830: George Stephenson begins rail service between Liverpool and London.
    (Good chance The Beatles would have never met without this train service and history would have drastically changed. Good Job, George.)

The Spread of the Industrial Revolution: 1830-1875 (No It's not Hellmans.)

  • 1840: Samuel Cunard begins transatlantic steamship service.
    (thinks he might build the first unsinkable ship)
  • 1856: Henry Bessemer develops the Bessemer converter.
    (changes name to Harriet Bessemer)
  • 1859: The first commercial oil well is drilled in Pennsylvania.
    (Pennzoil Company is glad to have local supplier)
  • 1866: The Siemens brothers improve steelmaking by developing the open hearth furnace.
    (There's nothing like a hot Sieman Oven)

The Second Industrial Revolution: Electricity and Chemicals: 1875-1905

  • 1836: Samuel F. B. Morse invents the telegraph.
    (the first dotdash com)
  • 1866: Cyrus Field lays the first successful transatlantic cable.
    (Baby cable companies arrive on the market 9 months later)
  • 1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
    (But also discovers he has no phone book so he doesn't know how to call anyone)
  • 1879: Thomas Edison invents the indandescent light bulb.
    (Would you turn that damn thing off and come to bed.- Mrs. Edison)
  • 1892: Rudolf Diesel patents the diesel engine.
    ( Virst ve invent de bi engine, den ve invent de sell engine.)
  • 1899: Guglielmo Marconi invents the wireless.
    (Upset competitors decide to counder with inventing WIRED)
  • 1903: The Wright Brothers make the first successful airplane flight.
    (Airline Insurance Companies are quick to follow suit.)

A four-part instrumental synthesizer piece from Jean-Michel Jarre's album Revolutions, total length 16:47. Personally, I consider this one of Jarre's greatest works.

One day, I was browsing Furnation. They had optional MIDI soundtrack, which I turned on - and much to my surprise, I really liked it. I downloaded the MIDI file and looked at the comments. Oh yes, my favorite synth composer, of course, I should have guessed. =) The piece in question was the Overture.

As the very title of this work suggests, the tunes are almost mechanical in nature, but have a lot of "human" content - it was the days when machines came, but people still needed to do a lot of work.

The overture is a nice example of this. The background is a repetitive two-tone beat, with near-divine, human-like melodies on top of them - and percussion beats that are rhythmical but somewhat out of synch with the background. The whole piece reminds me of some gigantic machine from the early industrial age - runs with steam, coughs steam, makes weird noise, but what the heck, it works.

The first part (after the overture) opens with sounds that can be even more easily associated with early industrial monsters. Then, it changes to very, very fast orchestral string music. The music is not about the Machine itself; I feel it's more about the increase of speed it gives to industrial production. At ocassions, the music slows down, and we again hear the "breath" of the steam-powered machine; While the machine is slow and bulky, it makes things happen faster than in earlier days.

The second part is faster, with no mention of the machine sounds; The third is again slow, in synch with the machine's heartbeat; with an electronic choir backing the beat, "pa-pa-pa-pa"...

Industrial revolution or industrial evolution?

Observers in the ninteenth century had little doubt that major change was afoot in the economic sphere – in 1814 Patrick Colquhoun contemplated "the progress of manufactures in Great Britain" with "wonder and astonishment"1 and Thomas Carlyle noticed in 1826 how "wealth has more and more increased".2 But recent historical work has contended that economic growth was in fact slow during the period of what is traditionally regarded to be the "Industrial Revolution" – Crafts and Harley say that there was no ‘revolution’ between 1750 and 1850.3 There view is based on national accounts data that suggests output growth was slow in the period 1780 – 1830. But the usefulness of this data is open to attack, and furthermore a reliance on macroeconomic indicators hides other issues of crucial importance – there was in fact a huge change in the structure of demand and the structure of the economy in the nineteenth century. People’s patterns of work were changing, as were their experiences of work – new technology would eventually increase productivity, but needed time before it could make an impact. It is not erroneous to call this period – especially the growth of mineral-based industries in the second half of the nineteenth century - a ‘revolution’, but nor should we disregard the continuity with earlier times. This was a period of massive change, but some of it was the continuation of earlier trends.

It is first worth examining the basis of the macroeconomic data which Crafts has supplied us with and which did so much to call the ‘revolution’ thesis into question. Crafts’ data was based on occupational tables compiled by Lindert and Williamson – but before the 1831 census, the content of these tables is questionable. The margin of error for people employed in agriculture, commerce and manufacturing could be as high as 60%, whilst the data for some groups such as carpenters are "little more than guesses".4 By its nature, the service sector left virtually no quantitative data behind whatsoever – in many cases it is impossible to know even of the existence of economic activity in this sector. Barriers to entry were low in many service industries, as well as in proto-industrial activity – and the informal economy would leave no records whatsoever. All this combines to mean that Crafts was liable to underestimate the level of activity in the secondary and tertiary sectors. Another major weakness of Lindert and Williamson’s tables were that they were based on parish burial records – these only recorded the occupations of men at death. This is unfortunate precisely because it is during this period that child and female labour was becoming more prominent, especially in proto-industry – and yet female labour was often not even recorded in wage books. The mechanisation which accompanied the centralisation of production in factories often meant a change to increased usage of female labour – they were considered more docile than their male counterparts, but could easily operate the machines.5

There is also the issue of regional specialisation – the huge differences between separate areas make national aggregates even less relevant. One of the results of industrialisation is regional specialisation – regions developed a certain type of industrial activity based on their comparative advantage.6 Regions with poor soil conditions and a social structure which was moving away from tight feudalism were apt to develop proto-industry – but ones were commercial farming were implemented might even de-industrialise.7 Urbanisation provided a stable market for large quantities of foodstuffs, and in some areas traditional industry declined as it became clearer that regional capital would be better invested in agriculture. Only 40% of adult people worked the soil by 1800 as agricultural productivity was so high, but this doesn’t mean there was only a shift away from agricultural employment – this is one aspect of the process of industrialisation which looks less revolutionary.8 Industrial growth spurred agricultural development, but with the commercialisation of farming also came the death of the independence of the agricultural labourer. Increasingly cut off from the ‘moral economy’ and drawn into the national market economy, agricultural labourers were themselves affected by the process of industrialisation – working experiences seemed to be changing for many groups of people, which supports the 'revolution' thesis.

Regional specialisation can only occur when there is a national, integrated market economy. With the development of transport networks came vast new opportunities for transporting goods over increasing distances and better opportunities for gathering market data. Before national communications networks emerged – first a canal system, then a railway one which was well-established by the 1850s – industrial towns could only serve regional demand and the opportunity for division of labour was limited. Some towns, though, were able to become the national centre of a particular industry – as with the cutlery industry in Sheffield and the cotton industry in Manchester.9 Such industrial centres could serve either the export market or the domestic one – London especially provided a stable market for consumer goods. This centralisation of industry meant they could benefit from external economies of scale and positive externalities such as skilled labour, market information and transport networks. The emergence of industrial towns in the provinces which made use of mechanisation on a large scale to serve a domestic market would be an important feature of the British economy for as long as manufacturing was predominant – they may not have brought about a sudden surge in productivity, but they set the stage for the future and in many cases remained thriving industrial centres for decades. If we focus only on the continuity of macroeconomic indicators we miss the socio-economic changes that were taking place in the way the economy was structured: this is where we find our "Industrial Revolution".

One of the most compelling images of this period of change is the factory. The factory entailed mechanised production in a centralised location – a departure from proto-industry such as putting out. Where it was adopted, the factory necessarily required a revolution in work patterns and attitudes to work. The reason so much proto-industrial activity was un-quantifiable is because of its informal character – it did not entail rigid labour discipline. Putter out merchants often considered their workers to be lazy – but in reality cotton production was only one part of the economic activity of outworkers. Before the advent of the factory they were still able to participate in the ‘moral economy’ – perhaps spending some of their time chopping wood, or tending to a small patch of arable land. As the commercialisation of agriculture was eroding the property rights of labourers, the factory was providing an alternative: proletarianization. Although factories initially caused large problems of discipline, there seems to be evidence that a change in attitudes to work and timekeeping were changing: eventually people began to rebel within the system rather than outside of it: the campaign for a ten hour working day in the 1850s being an example.10 Although this was arguably a revolution in working habits, it was by no means universal – the point of proto-industrial capital was its flexibility, and merchants would not necessarily want to tie it down in fixed assets. When growth in the manufacturing sector took off – it was 4.1% per annum between 1831 and 1841 – growth in the handicrafts sector was still 2.4% per annum.11 The balance of the economy was shifting, but the ‘traditional’ sector was still important.

We would be foolish to discount this ‘traditional’ sector which consisted of small units of production. Their flexibility and degree of specialisation meant that productivity increases were possible within this sector – smaller units of production are close to their market and can respond to changes in demand quicker. Increased urbanisation brought the middling sort close to their social betters, who they might well try to ape through similar patterns of consumption. The productivity increases possible in smaller units of production were limited, but it is important to appreciate the inter-connection between them and the ‘modern’ sector. Vertical integration between the two was possible and both modes of production often coexisted in the same industry. The emergence of the factory was drawn out in some regions due to systems of land tenure, obstructionism by local property-owners or other legal and institutional factors. In this instance economic rationality is not the only thing that must be considered, and the process of change was more evolutionary. Yet once it was completed, a revolution in work practices had taken place – it is again important to stress the long-term changes that the restructuring entailed. The factory may have emerged sporadically, but it was eventually established as the dominant mode of manufacturing that carried on into the 20th century.

A prerequisite to this centralisation of production was the harnessing of large quantities of mechanical energy through the steam engine – and this required large quantities of coal. In 1700, British coal output was 3 million tons – in 1850 it was 30.4 million tons.12 The coal output of the entire of the rest of Europe by 1850 was only 3 million tons.13 A million tons of coal is capable of providing as much energy as a million acres of forest – at the end of the reign of George III the British economy was consuming 15 million acres of forest’s worth of energy more than it had done in the time of Elizabeth I. This constituted a revolution not only in the structural basis of energy provision, but also in the capacity of the economy to grow. An organic economy is necessarily limited by the amount of energy which can be gathered from the land – coal, though subject to decreasing marginal returns due to the cost of winning it at greater depths, can be mined continuously and inject a much larger degree of energy into the economy. Coal had been used since Tudor times in simple industrial processes to heat liquids, but the true transition away from an organic economy came when industry became a major consumer of coal – this occurred in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Mechanisation might take time to be adopted across all industries because in some it was more rational to continue using water power, but eventually it would become highly pervasive. This was only possible because the coal industry was able to provide a much greater quantity of coal without rising marginal costs. Output per man in the coal pits didn’t increase at all between Tudor and Edwardian times and the process of extracting it was still very primitive, but the coal industry spurred a huge amount of development elsewhere. The steam engine had been developed to pump water out of Cornish mines and the railway system was encouraged to grow because of pressures to transport coal.

In the period 1851 – 60, 43.2% of gross domestic capital formation was in mineral-based industries: this was 3.9% of GNP. When compared to the period 1761 – 70, where the percentage of gross domestic capital formation was only 10.2% and 0.6% of GNP, it is clear that a major revolution in the structure of the economy is taking place.14 It is roughly after 1850 that national real incomes begin to rise steadily, but this is likely to be the result of change earlier in the century. Restructuring of the economy is not likely to lead to immediate productivity gains – labour has to be trained, capital has to be purchased and new attitudes need to be fostered. The large degree of capital formation taking place in the mineral-based industries by 1860 – triple that of the period 1801 – 10 – indicates that the transition period is drawing to a close. It is clear that by this point the mineral-based industries are seen as a safe investment if so much capital is being ploughed into them – they were no longer anomalies in a "sea of tradition", but instead were attracting much more investment than ‘traditional’ economic activity. This new mineral-based economy also managed to overturn the assumptions of the classical economists such as Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. They correctly recognised the negative feedback mechanism which related population to food supply in the British economy – increased population would necessarily immiserate the people as food prices rose.15 In the nineteenth century, this link was broken – population rapidly increased without an attendant fall in real incomes, which were in fact rising steadily after 1850. The economy had switched to a system of positive feedback, were agricultural productivity spurred the development of industry and towns. Towns could now grow because food supplies were more easily obtainable, as was coal for heating – and the construction industry became more productive because bricks could be heated more cheaply.

Productivity may not have increased massively in the period that is traditionally considered the "Industrial Revolution", but the economy of 1900 was hugely different in structure from that of 1700. By focusing on quantitative measures we ignore a massive switch in the economic and social structure, as well as cultural attitudes. Mechanisation, which drove centralised production, was made possible by technical innovation and a huge rise in coal output. Product and process innovation may not provide instant productivity gains that can be measured – the current computer revolution is an example. But if we want to understand the British economy in this period we have to look at aggregate structural change, especially when they provided the basis of the economy for so long afterwards. The Industrial Revolution was the culmination of a process that had been going on for a long time, but which was made fundamentally possible by the eventual total switch from an organic economy – the dichotomy with Holland, which had a highly advanced organic economy but failed to industrialise early, is stark. The emergence of a national, integrated market which brought more and more economic activity into its sphere provided the precursor for modern consumer society. Real wages could rise even as population did. The Industrial Revolution is not an event that we can pin down to any particular few decades; rather it is a name which can usefully be applied to a process that took several centuries: but that the result is starkly different from what came before can scarcely be denied. Change was often regional in character and gradual in speed, but the Revolution was more than the sum of its measurable parts.

The role of quantitative data is to inform us of broad trends and provide inspiration. It should not be relied on absolutely – if Thomas Carlyle believed himself to be in the "Age of Machinery" in 1829, an examination of his social and economic environment is necessary to find out why.16 Proletarianisation – which accompanied industrialisation – brought about a huge shift in working practices and the unprecedented agitation of the Chartists and Luddites shows for sure that change was afoot. The factory system was eventually accepted as the dominant mode of production by both the workers and industrialists, but the process took time – and there was friction associated with this change. By looking at qualitative factors such as people’s attitudes to the change, how businesses developed their products and processes, and how the structure of demand changed we find the real essence of the Industrial Revolution – not by merely examining tables of figures.

1. P. Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Wealth, Power and Resources of the British Empire (London, 1814, 2nd ed., 1815, p.68)
2. T. Carlyle, 'Signs of the Times', 1829, quoted in A.H.R. Ball, Selections from Carlyle (Cambridge, 1929), p. 107
3. N.F.R Crafts and C.K. Harley, 'Output, growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement', Economic History Review, 1992
4. M. Berg and P. Jackson, 'Rehabilitating the Industrial Revolution', Economic History Review, 1992
5. M. Daunton, Progress and Poverty (1995), ch. 7
6. M. Berg and P. Jackson, op. cit.
7. M. Berg, The Age of Manufactures (1994), pp. 106 - 07
8. E.A. Wrigley, Continuity, Chance and Change: the character of the industrial revolution in England (1988), p. 16
9. M. Daunton, op. cit., pp. 140 - 41
10. Ibid., ch. 7
11. Ibid.p. 135
12. Ibid.p. 219
13. E. A. Wrigley, op. cit., p. 54
14. Ibid., p. 107
15. Thomas Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) ; David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy (1817)
16. T. Carlyle, op. cit.

Complete bibliography

M. Daunton, Progress and Poverty (1995)
D. Cannadine, 'The Present and the Past in the British Industrial Revolution', Past and Present, 1984
M. Berg and P. Jackson, 'Rehabilitating the Industrial Revolution', Economic History Review, 1992
M. Berg, The Age of Manufactures (1994)
E.A. Wrigley, Continuity, Chance and Change: the character of the industrial revolution in England (1988)
N.F.R Crafts and C.K. Harley, 'Output, growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement', Economic History Review, 1992
P. Hudon, The Industrial Revolution (1992)
J. Hoppit, 'Counting the industrial revolution', Economic History Review, 1990

The Industrial Revolution is generally understood to have started in England in the middle of the 18th century. From there the inventions which sparked it spread out to other countries; impacting them in various, sometimes unfortunate ways.

In the mid 1700s, England was faced with a market dilemma in the textile industry. Having relied for centuries on its woollen cloths, the market for these materials was cut by the introduction of superiour looking and wearing cotton textiles from India. Because of this, the English government set heavy tariffs on imported textiles and the English citizenry felt compelled to compete. Soon, improvements in spinning and weaving allowed the British to outproduce the Indians, both in quantity and quality. Britain and India’s positions in the market system were juxtaposed, with India becoming the supplier of raw cotton and Britain exporting its finished textiles back to India.

This new industrialism was certainly not confined to the realm of textiles. With the introduction of efficient steam power, the mining, iron and transportation industries were also improved. Innovations in mining equipment allowed for more coal and iron ore to be processed, and more efficiently. The transportation industry received a huge and extremely significant boost with the invention of a practical locomotive in 1829. This allowed more raw resources to be shipped faster, over longer distances, and because the steam engine needed coal, and the new locomotive needed plenty of iron, from its body down to the rails it rode on, a self-feeding, self-building cycle was created.

Not all of the effects of these “innovations” were good, however. The technological changes to the textile industry made the so-called “cottage industries,” where looming, weaving, etc, was largely done from home, obsolete by new textile mills and factories; thus displacing those whom were unable or unwilling to change. Because of increased demand for coal and iron, the innovations in the mining industry were focused primarily on output, and so the workers suffered. Long hours, sour wages and extremely hazardous conditions prevailed; not to mention the now unacceptable, then-common practice of using young children and women as “expendables.”

While the Western world, for the most part, flourished and prospered as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the rest of the world suffered. In Asia, India suffered in the textile industry, its economy making the harsh switch from export to import, draining and weakening it until the British closed in for the kill in the 19th century. England used this same tactic in China in the mid 1800s. The Celestial Empire was extremely ethnocentric and xenophobic, thinking itself the center of the universe and above every other society. Thus, it did not need new technological innovations, as it was already perfect. Then it was introduced to the one substance it didn’t have: opium. To Britain’s delight, it soon discovered that China would accept opium in exchange for the tea, silks and porcelains the English craved- opium which Britain could cheaply produce on plantations in India. Being an addictive drug, the Chinese continued to import opium until the Chinese government recognised the problem and attempted to ban it and cease all imports. England would have none of this and proceeded to destroy harbour buildings and Chinese ships, or junks, proclaiming the principles of “free trade.” To appease the Britain, the Chinese government ceded the island of Hong Kong.

The impact of the Industrial Revolution was wide spread, and can still be felt today. The Western cultures continue to dominate, while the “Third World” continually falls behind, whether due to market wars as in India, or pure stubbornness like in China.

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