Why was the Industrial Revolution a curse?Why was the Industrial Revolution a curse?
There are many reasons why the Industrial Revolution represented Dickens' "the worst of times." Overcrowded cities led to poor living conditions for many people. At the same time, the conditions in factories were not occupationally safe. Workers' rights were put aside in many instances for the pursuit of unlimited profit. While this became evident, there was a heightening of the class system where the very rich were outnumbered by the very poor. Maximizing efficiency became code for taking advantage of workers and foregoing any protection for the state of being. From a more philosophical point of view, the Industrial Revolution ended up making everything more automated. The individual craftsmanship and refinement of artisan talent that was a part of the pre- Industrialization setting was replaced by innovations like Whitney's interchangeable parts and the factory system that removed authenticity and unique distinction in products. While there were many benefits to it, including the fact that we are here today because of it, I think that there are some significant critiques that can be offered of it.
The best argument for the Industrial Revolution being a curse is that it created a situation in which workers had to endure very bad working conditions. It took away the dignity and independence of the workers.
Before the Industrial Revolution, people worked at home, at their own pace. They might work really hard for a week straight and then go take a break. They were their own bosses and they could be proud of their autonomy and their skills.
After the Revolution, none of this was true. The people had to go work in dangerous factories when they were told to work. They were no longer their own bosses and they were often doing unskilled work.
So the Industrial Revolution took workers' autonomy and pride away from them and stuck them in factories that were dangerous and in which the workers were not really respected and valued.
The Industrial Revolution took place in a political climate where there was little if any regulation, meaning that worker safety, pay, hours and conditions were kept at levels which maximized profit as opposed to humane conditions for the working class. It began a very long era of exploitation of people simply for the bottom line.
The environmental damage of the demand for resources and the waste of the factories along with the cities they were built in left a lasting scar on the land.
You only have to read a book like Hard Times by Charles Dickens to see the negative aspects of the Industrial Revolution and how it impacted negatively a whole generation of the working class who were forced to work in often terrible conditions and live in polluted, dirty cities. Likewise, the mechanical advances actually resulted in the loss of jobs for people as machines could operate more effectively and cheaper than manpower.