Friday, October 9, 2009

Industrialization and Socialism

In my last post, I discussed the transition that the countries were experiencing as they transitioned from an “old world” to a “modern world” and what some of the beginning effects of this transition were. In this week’s reading of Age of Empire, Eric Hobsbawn writes a bit more about life at the beginning of the industrialization era. The total number and percentage of wage works began to grow significantly throughout the world. People were foregoing their commons jobs as craftsmen and farmers, and setting their sights on joining the workforce. There was a significant decrease in rural population, dropping from approximately 65% in 1870 to approximately 35% in 1910. This “surge” in entering the workforce obviously brought along another set of problems no one was anticipating. The demand for higher wages began to take place and labor & trade unions began to form. Representing these workers was the Socialist Party who would soon begin to have a huge presence.

Aside from the industrialization era rushing in a new style of workforce for many countries, it also introduced an all-too-well-known theory called “socialism.” Socialist Parties began to sprout up all across the world, but in particular – in Europe. Struggling against capitalism and motivated by the Marxist doctrine, these parties allowed the working class to be represented. Though no one clearly perceived what they meant, these socialistic parties strived for what they considered to be a “better future.” Much like the rapid embrace of the modern world, socialist parties spread like wildfire and certain took a large presence over the world.

Something that I would like to see further investigated is – why do you think everything always happened in such a “rush” manner?? Why were people so quick to embrace the modern world? Why were people so quick to leave their job (what they were good at) and seek out to join the workforce? Why were socialist parties so quick to form and why did they grow so quickly? Did nobody ever stop to question why they were doing what they were doing?


  1. I love the last question! I personally think that the answer is NO: people never stop to question why they do what they do. They get caught up in strong passionate dangerous emotions and desires for immediate rewards. For most people it's not "the good of society" but "the good of myself." The problem with the so-called "uniting of the proletariat" is that each individual member of the proletariat didn't really want to unite so much as they just wanted to have more money personally.

    (I would also like to add that I will never not feel silly using the word "proletariat" seriously, as I have seen it used far more in parody than in anything else)

  2. I agree, I don't think people really consider what they are doing. I also think it was a much greater part of the culture at that time. With the wave of technological invention, everything seemed much more exciting and possible. There was also an economic boom for a while, which led people to believe that life would continue getting better. When it didn't, they searched for a way, any way, to return to the old way of life. Your questions basically reminded me of "The Great Gatsby" in a nutshell. I think everyone was just desperate to have a chance to get ahead by any means available.

  3. I feel as though things werent actually that rushed as the book makes it seem. Compared to all of history yes the change from agricultural work towards urban was fast, but I can understand why people wanted a change. I can understand people wanting to leave something they've spent there life doing to see something "new,exciting and different." In the past, people never really had a choice of what they did, and with industrialization and urbanization there was a chance for anyone to get a new life. Also, I feel part of it was about money, there was a chance to make more money and make something of yourself in the city. I can see where you are coming from, but I also understand the draw of the city from the country.