Inventors discovered ways to transform natural resources into energy, and then invented machines that were powered by this new energy. These machines replaced hand-powered tools that did the job much faster and cheaper. Factories were built to manufacture goods on a large scale to be sold to different countries around the world. These changes caused many people to become unemployed, which led to a mass migration in the early 19th century of villagers from the countryside to the cities in search of work. People who were once farmers, farm hands and skilled weavers, now flocked the cities to become factory workers.
This was the birth of the Urban Working Class. A new class of people emerged. Workers who produced goods and Industrialists (factory owners) who employed hundreds, sometimes thousands of people to made enormous profits in their industrial centers. Karl Marx, a political philosopher, who coined the term ‘Proletariat’, to describe the urban working class and ‘Bourgeoisie’ to describe the employers, saw the inequality of wealth between the two different classes of the industrial society as being unfair and immoral because the Bourgeoisie had all the wealth while the Proletariat who earned that wealth had nothing.
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This inequality, he believed, would breed hostility between the classes. He said that the Industrial Revolution had created the ‘Capitalist System’. A system, that protects the interest of the Bourgeoisie who benefits from having the Proletariat working as many hours per day, for as little pay as possible. The Bourgeois’ main objective, he stated, was to prevent the Proletariat from owning the means of production. ‘Owning the means of production’ was true wealth according to Marx, not the power to buy and own material things. The time will come, Marx believed, when the workers are going to revolt and take ever the means of production.
He said that this was inevitable and the first place that this revolution would occur would be Britain, since this was the first nation to go through industrialization hence, the first to create the Proletariat. Throughout the 1 9th century the living and working conditions of the Proletariat was appalling. Pollution from coal- powered factories blackened the cities. Lack of housing caused overcrowding, poor sanitation and rat invested roads. At work conditions were terrible with workers including young children, expected to work long hours with dangerous machinery. Many were injured and some even killed.
Few laws were implemented to protect children and other workers since the policy makers and their friends owned many of these factories. The workers had no choice but organized themselves into groups and formed alliances in order to seek justice. This group grew in numbers within the factory they worked and Trade Unions were formed at a local level. Soon after, workers from different factories performing the same tasks having shared interest began to unite into Unions now at a National level. At the turn of the century, the Labor Representation Committee was formed.
This committee was mainly made up of Trade Union Delegates. Their purpose Was to discuss issues that were essential to their members. These delegates would then send a representative (Shop Steward), to the House of Common to voice (lobby) their concerns to an existing Members of Parliament, which had very little effect. Recognizing that they would never get these MSP to express the needs of the working class in the House of Commons, the delegates formed their own political party and in 1900, the Labor Party was born. Its principal raisin deter was to represent the interest of the working class.
Within the Labor Movement however, there are two factions. One group, the Reformists, believed that changes should come from within Parliament. Labor Representatives would set about changing laws to benefit the working class. However, the Revolutionists (Marxist) believed that for real changes to occur, the Parliamentary system need to be removed entirely and be replaced with a series of Workers’ Councils where the workers would control the system of society in the interests of the community as a whole. Eventually the ‘dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie’ would be replaced by the ‘dictatorship of Proletariat. ‘