Political Consciousness and Class Consciousness

Political Consciousness and Class Consciousness in Industrial Revolution

This post contains an explanation of Political Consciousness and Class Consciousness in Industrial Revolution.


Political Consciousness and Class Consciousness in Industrial Revolution

Class experiences gave rise to class- consciousness on the part of the different sections of society, which was expressed through differing political affiliations. The bourgeoisie expressed its political consciousness initially through representing the general demands of society against privilege and despotism. Increasingly it began to give specific form and content to its class interests through promoting economic policies opposed to agriculture and landed aristocracy and through gaining dominance in the representative institutions. Although ideologically it stood by liberalism, in practice, it supported and initiated centrist and right-wing parties as well to counter the working class pressure.

The working people were the first to challenge the capitalist order. Theirs is a story that began with food riots and machine breaking and evolved into varied forms of organized protests that assumed great political significance.

In Europe, with the emergence of capitalism, landlords and the peasantry were integrated with the economy in different ways. At the same time, in some countries, the dominance of landed interests continued to shape the society and economy. This dominance of landed interest did not allow the emerging bourgeoisie to attain an independent identity or hegemony. Elsewhere, the newly emerging classes had to struggle politically to attain a new consciousness.

Impact on social and economic systems

The industrial revolution is synonymous with certain technological and economic changes, with important social consequences and social origins. It denotes the extensive application of water, steam (and later electrical) power in production systems; the focus of production in the factory and its formidable mechanization; major changes in the character and exploitation of “home” and “foreign” markets, and the near disappearance of subsistence agriculture.

Industrial society cannot survive without universal literacy. Education which was a cottage industry in the agrarian world must now become full-fledged, impersonal and organized modern industry to turn out neat, uniform human product out of the raw material of an uprooted anonymous mass population.

An industrial society is one in which work is not manual but semantic. Modern economy does not just need a worker; it needs a skilled worker. It is mobile society; it is an egalitarian society, and it is a society with a shared high-culture and not exclusive as it was in the agrarian world.

A peasant’s son need not be a peasant; what occupational position he occupies will depend, not on his heredity or community’s status, but on his own competence and training.

Land inevitably attracted investment and loans, but industry, with its few guarantees, was a different matter. Until mid-eighteenth century, entrepreneurs lent to themselves within the same trade or drew on the funds that merchants made available to them. They could also call for loans on goldsmiths and others who dealt in precious metals. With a pickup of commercial activity in agriculture and industry,  such “bankers” were joined by various country banks which were set up during periods of expanding trade after mid-century. They were also backed by London banks in times of difficulty. A network existed, therefore, for redistributing resources at the time that manufacturing industry increasingly came to require it.

The industry was increasingly rationalized. Here, rationalization implied the subordination of production to the calculation—a development which had been less important earlier, since hired labor and technology were rarely concentrated in one place, where the influence of the capitalist could exert itself effectively. Among the consequences of such change were economies of scale, where, as production increased, each unit of manufacture became cheaper in terms of costs of production. A diminution of dependence on natural forces (climate, cardinally) followed from the  integration  of markets

Major changes in ecological balance resulted from the scale of demand and production: well known here is the deforestation of large sections of the United States and Russia, and the destruction of wild herds in the  United  States. An important feature was also the rigorous subordination of economic activity to the troughs and booms of the trade cycle, whose nature varied in accordance with alterations in investment and consumption.

‘Gradualist’ argument which stressed continuities with the earlier demographic regime and slow growth of industrial productivity has been criticized for not taking into account the substantial contributions of female and child labor and for not taking a connected regional picture of emerging industrialization.

The peculiar importance of youth labor in the industrial revolution is highlighted in several instances of textile and other machinery being designed and build to suit the child worker. The spinning jenny was a celebrated case; the original country jenny had a horizontal wheel requiring a posture most comfortable for children aged nine to twelve. Indeed, for a time, in the very early phases of mechanization and factory organization in the woolen and silk industries as well as in cotton, it was generally believed that child labor was integral to textile machine design.

Bureaucratization can be said to encompass the processes both of the centralization and expansion and of the professionalization of all institutions. Bureaucratization has been a result & cause of and similar to industrialization. Generating and exploiting material resources took the form of industrialization; doing the same with human resources took the form of social mobilization. Entirely new institutions and professions were required for these activities, and the emergence of professional bureaucracies takes place against this background. The first of these were the direct servants of the state, the civil servants, and the armed forces. Bureaucratization was accompanied by a campaign against “corruption”  and  in  the  cause  of “efficiency.”

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