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I think that when Dickens writes "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," the latter portion of the statement applied to workers during the Industrial Revolution. Workers during the Industrial Revolution endured long hours, small compensation, and extremely hazardous working conditions. One has to remember that this is long before unionization of workers, government regulations of conditions in factories, as well as well before the establishment of a minimum wage concept. Workers fled to factory jobs at the behest of the owners of the factories. As industrialization took hold of Europe and then America, it was capitalism that was driven towards the needs of the investors. The workers were a second, if not a tertiary, concern. This is especially evident in the children who were used as workers. Long hours, beatings, and the lack of a childhood represented their treatment during the Industrial Revolution. In this one can see that if child workers endured such harsh and brutal conditions, then the adult workers would have had it as if not much worse. In this, the life of workers during the Industrial Revolution was a brutal and unfair one.
Life was hard, multiple families were living on one appartment, very poor sanitary conditions in the factories and in homes, and you were lucky to have enought money to buy basic essentials.
I think the Industrial Revolution is still going on. It may be gaining momentum, and it may be unstoppable. The essential feature of the Industrial Revolution is the replacement of human labor by machinery. Now we have computers and computer-operated robots replacing office workers, assembly-line workers, and all kinds of other workers. In the early days of the Industrial Revolution in England the machines were throwing thousands of people out of work. Now the computerized machines are throwing people out of work by the millions. Anytime humans are replaced by machines, such as when robots began assembling automobiles, that is an example of the Industrial Revolution in action. It would seem that eventually practically everything could be done by smart machines--and then what would humans do to earn their livings? Some could service the machines, but they would have to be highly skilled--and there obviously wouldn't be enough jobs for all the humans the machines would replace. When you pick up the telephone these days, there is a good chance that you will either be talking to a machine or listening to a machine.
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