Marx saw the Industrial Revolution as a necessary stage in the development of the economy and society on the road to full communism. The Industrial Revolution swept away the old economic system of feudalism, replacing it with an unfettered capitalism that brought about enormous social change. As with any economic system, capitalism developed its own internal class relations. The dominant class was the bourgeoisie. They owned the means of production (such as equipment, technology, and factories), which allowed them to exploit the proletariats—who worked for them—generating their wealth.
During the Industrial Revolution the system of capitalism developed rapidly and, with it, the huge gap in power and wealth between social classes. It also led to even greater exploitation of the impoverished men, women, and children who toiled away in often appalling conditions in the new industries. Marx railed against such conditions, but he saw the Industrial Revolution as a necessary stage in the eventual arrival of Communism. As capitalism developed, so would the system's internal contradictions. He saw the endless quest for profit as unsustainable and argued it would lead to capitalism's eventual collapse. At the same time, argued Marx, the proletariat would develop consciousness of itself as a distinct and separate class with its own unique interests—interests not served by capitalism. Suitably armed, the proletariat would then be able to overthrow capitalism at the appropriate historical juncture and begin the long, laborious process of establishing communism.