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The Nineteenth Century ushered in the age of Industrialism. When Karl Marx produced the Communist Manifesto in 1848, many thought he was (and many still think so) that he was the triumph of radicalism.  However, Marx simply understood that the social order of Europe was still struggling under the same ideas that sparked the French Revolution; the only difference was that the new order that emerged by 1800 captured its hegemony by controlling capital.  The Ancien Regime had become the Industrial Bourgeoisie.


Industrialism cannot be separated from modernity.  It is the defining characteristic and mode of thinking.  At its heart is a paradox.  “Our lives are controlled by a ruling class with vested interests not merely in change but in crisis and chaos. […] Catastrophes are transformed into lucrative opportunities for redevelopment and renewal; disintegration works as a mobilizing and hence an integrating force”.  Marx was in awe of the power of the bourgeoisie and recognized their inherent flaws, recognized the way in which constant change became the mode of life, and recognized that individuals not in control of their destinies (the proletariat) were left bewildered and trampled on.  For the proletariat to seize the means of production was the only way that individuals would return to a state of harmony, for lack of a better word.

Marx recognized that something had been lost.  Through medieval times, individuals had direct control over what they produced.  Even peasants, trapped to land that was not their own, were able to keep most of what they produced.  Under Industrialism, what the individual produced belonged to the owner of the factory.  This is a serious and significant shift in human behavior.  The bourgeoisie demanded that the proletariat enslave itself for mere wages.  All that was required of the individual was brute strength, exchanged for as little as possible.

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