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Social Changes of Industrialization

When industrialization began, the structure of the affected societies changed. The feudal system gave way to new political and economic systems and the changes were caused by industrialization. Industrialization came about through military factors. Furthermore, political and economic changes frequently came about violently because of their magnitude. In most cases, industrialization displaced every aspect of the feudal system, including the ruling classes. When the ruling classes tried to suppress these changes, they came about more violently and completely - even when the change was postponed. The French Revolution is perhaps the greatest example of the unfortunate results that resistance to industrial social changes could have for the ruling classes. It is interesting to note that the means of dealing with the deposed ruling classes was the guillotine, perhaps the first mechanical device that could meet out executions on an industrial scale and with industrial methods.

Storming of the Bastille and arrest of the Governor M. de Launay, July 14, 1789.

Storming of the Bastille and arrest of the Governor M. de Launay, July 14, 1789.
Artist: Anonymous.
Wikimedia Commons.

Because Europe was at war most of the time, industrial goods such as cannons and guns became increasingly important to the heads of state. The rulers had to have these items or else their states would be conquered by another state trying to expand its territory, a practice now known as imperialism. They could not resist industrialization because the materials of war were crucial to their survival. In fact, they usually embraced new technologies and industries and tried to encourage advances in these areas, especially in armament design. Nevertheless, they usually failed to embrace the changes to their societies that industrialization demanded. It required new social structures and for the monarchs to step aside from their roles as the supreme rulers of their nations. There are only a few cases where the monarchs were astute enough to realize that they could not resist these changes. It is extremely paradoxical that the industrialization that rulers needed to maintain their positions eventually caused their rules to topple and ended their political systems and way of life. In most cases, this change came about through some violent means. In reality, the cause of war was industrialization, and the cause of industrialization was war.

Liberty Leading the People, July 28, 1789.

28 July. Liberty Leading the People.
Le 28 Juillet. La Liberté guidant le peuple.
Artist: Eugène Delacroix.
Musée du Louvre, Paris.