How did the role of government change as a result of industry? How is this related to the economic systems of capitalism, communism, and socialism?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries changed almost all aspects of life in Europe, Britain, and North America. Industrialization was responsible for population growth, urbanization, and a shift in wealth from the older aristocratic land-owning classes to a rising class of wealthy industrialists.

Because industry is more capital intensive than agriculture, wealth began to shift from land ownership to capital investment in factories and trade, creating a new economic elite.

The first political change that occurred in response to this in Europe was a move towards greater democracy. Wealthy industrialists, due to their economic power, had the ability to successfully press for some share in the running of their countries rather than being content to be ruled by a hereditary nobility. 

Because industry required a skilled, educated workforce, this period also sees a broadening of literacy and education. This, combined with urbanization, led to the urban laboring classes pressing for more rights, including the ability to vote. Both the French Revolution and English Reform bills responded to these pressures. 

Karl Marx had predicted that the inherent internal contradictions of capitalism would lead to proletarian revolutions, with workers seizing the means of production. In fact, other than a few brief moments such as the Paris Commune of 1871, communist revolutions did not occur in industrialized countries, but in feudal agricultural ones such as Russia and Chine. 

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