Explain the ways in which the Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution, and the French Revolution influenced Karl Marx and his concepts of Socialism and Communism.

The Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the French Revolution all influenced the concepts of Socialism and Communism as presented by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto (1847). The Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution both contributed to widening the gap between the rich and poor in society, while the French Revolution was a powerful reminder that, if mobilized, the lower and middle classes within society could overthrow the rich and powerful to create political, social, and economic change.

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The Scientific Revolution of the 1500s-1600s ushered in a period of revolutionary scientific thought that replaced traditional thinking and the Church as the dominant power in Europe. This new theoretical framework and focus on science allowed philosophers to delve into a dialectic that was more materialistic and less god-based. This would eventually lead thinkers to start exploring the moral nature of capitalism and exposing what they saw as its natural corruption.

Likewise, the Industrial Revolution widened the gap between the rich and poor, exposing the intrinsic corruption of capitalism and laissez-faire economics. During the Industrial Revolution, the middle class grew as factory owners made fat profits manufacturing finished products while paying their factory workers low wages. It was not until later that workers in many countries unionized, demanding better wages, fair hours, and safer labor conditions. In many places across Europe, workers continued to work in deplorable conditions while factory owners grew richer and richer. Marx saw this growing gap between the haves and have-nots, or as he called them, the bourgeoisie and proletariat. He decided that the time had come for a proletarian revolution, where the proletariat would overthrow the bourgeoisie. His Communist Manifesto was a reaction to the exploitation he saw and a declaration that all history was, in fact, the history of class struggle.

The Industrial Revolution began in England in the early 1700s and spread throughout Europe over the next 100 years. The French Revolution began in 1789 after many years of dissatisfaction with the Bourbon royal family in France and their ill treatment of the third estate. While the third estate (including the middle class bourgeoisie) was taxed at almost 50%, the upper two estates were barely taxed at all. People were fed up and decided to overthrow the French King (Louis XVI) by secretly meeting to draft a constitution based on Enlightenment ideas. When radicals took control of the Revolution, they brutally cut off the heads of the king and queen.

Even though the French Revolution occurred before The Communist Manifesto was written, the idea of the proletariat rising up and overthrowing the bourgeoisie was an idea that many saw as plausible and attractive. Classism had been felt throughout Europe for a long time before the mid 1800s, setting the stage for Marx and Engels to write their capstone work.

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