The Forgotten British Communist Party Essay Example

When the Industrial Revolution brought a rapid increase in wealth, the demand of workers for a fair share of the wealth they were creating was conceded only after riots and strikes.

-John Boyd Orr

As the Nobel Prize winner, John Boyd Orr quoted, there was irony with the wealth brought by the Industrial Revolution. The wealth was created and worked for by the workers, but they only got a limited portion after numerous riots and rebellions. During the 18th Century, the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain was marvelous in shaping the modern world but it was simultaneously deficient in equality. To explain, the industrial revolution brought about numerous inventions that shaped the future of the world, such as the steam engine and the telegraph. But as these revolutionary ideas were starting to emerge, so were the manufacturing factories that came along with them. The factories were run by numerous workers and were located at the heart of cities, making the already packed cities even more packed. They included machinery with little to no safety precautions and poor compensation for their workers. This rapid industrialization also caused the demand for plentiful workers for businesses. This demand separated the social order to newer classes, from the people that were profiting from the era to the people who were creating the profits.. The emergence of the working-class during Britain’s rapid industrial revolution led to the degradation of the working and living conditions retained by the workers, leading to the plague of Marxist ideologies throughout Britain’s working populace and the later formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The rapid industrialization of Britain brought about the poor living and working conditions of the workers, leading to the search for a new social order and the unionization of workers. The Industrial revolution surprised many gradualists, who were folk who believed that change comes slowly, through the sheer pace it took to completely change the social order of Britain (Burg). The populace of the proletariat class was not used to the rapid change caused by the industrial revolution and therefore, had to adapt to these conditions fairly quickly. This rapid urbanization also brought about the bad living and working conditions as well as the factory lifestyle fairly due to the demand of workers brought upon by the businesses. In fact, “The concept of class became a central organizing myth of nineteenth-century Europe” and “rise of the bourgeoisie and the working class” (Heller) became the dawn of a new social order. During the class formation in Britain, there was a significant rise of the bourgeoisie as the lower, working classes were forced into terrible living and working conditions along with autonomous schedules. As workers started to realize how unjustified their conditions of work truly were, they started to unionize to protect their freedoms in the workplace (Farr). 

The unionization was brought about because workers “had a high degree of autonomy in their daily lives” (Pelz), they did not have any political say, lived in poverty and were often “deluded by the church” (Pelz). Commoners of the lower classes led lives that were almost autonomous, and they had very little purpose in life as they had no say in government and lived in poverty. These conditions were ripe for increasing awareness about the inequality of the proletariat class. The lower classes had no say and no representation, and all the while lived in poverty and hunger. This sense of inequality brings about just the opposite as laborers start wanting equality in terms of conditions and wages, which is one of the core ideas of Marxist philosophy.

The first step that they took to retain their rights was the effort of unification among the workers (Usdin). Within seeing the image of their oppression, the workers of the lower class emerged through unions as upstanding citizens of the country and felt that they were to be valued by the corporations of Britain. With their unionization, they took a step into the direction of fairness and the ultimate betterment of their experiences in the workplace. (Farr). Another factor that contributed to the unionization of the workers was the impediment on the migration between classes. Many of the wealthier people from the top percent of society were easily able to identify the members of the working class from their “lack of manners, poor clothing, excessive drinking, and generally indecorous behavior” (Farr). The members of the lower-class people isolated themselves with their daily habits and created multiple stereotypes to the wealthier people looking from the outside-in.

This, in turn created very little movement between classes as once someone fits those stereotypes, it is hard to break out. In addition, the addictions you gain as the result of the working and living condition such as excessive drinking, which was one of the characteristics associated with proletariats, was difficult to quit and move away from (Farr), therefore making the migration of classes even more challenging. Citizens were also treated accordingly based on the class they were identified with. This in coordination with the little to no movement between classes and the associated images given to members of the working class only strengthened the will of the proletariats to unionize and stand up for themselves. 

“In their wake, workers who had been classified as skilled artisans and legally empowered to regulate their own trade collectively now became individual wage earners, whose labor was a commodity to be negotiated and sold freely to individual employers in labor markets” (Sweeney). The economy and the occupations during the dawn of the industrial revolution saw a numerous working classes people struggle to transition into the factory working lifestyle. It offered many changes and people found it hard to adapt to the system. The economy and the occupations during the dawn of the industrial revolution saw numerous working classes people struggle to transition into the factory working lifestyle. It offered many changes and people found it hard to adapt into the system. The bourgeoisie class oversaw the proletariat class during the occupation times. This served as a division between people, which brought about class formation.

The endurance of the lower classes with the tolerance of the horrible conditions they were put in eventually ran out and led to the bad PR of capitalism, leading to the emergence of communist ideals. “the radical contention that the production and exchange of things necessary to the support of human life, the process through which wealth was created and distributed, was the root cause of social change and the political revolutions of the eighteenth century—stood much of the interpretation of the European past, embedded in Hegelian idealism, on its head. (Magraw). Marxism, the primary ideals of communism, was initially born through the political economy of Britain during the industrial revolution. People valued materialism and there were numerous unfair working and living conditions within the lower classes, ultimately bringing about Marxism/ communism. “For Marx and Engels the mode of production was the motor of historical process. Its movement was impossible to understand outside of the necessary frictions and periodic clashes of a society divided into irreconcilable classes, primarily the new social strata, the bourgeois and the proletarian.” (Palmer).

For Karl Marx, the mode of production, or the way of manufacturing at the time, was the train that chugged along history itself. It brought about the classes that we know to this day and created a demand for new social orders such as communism and socialism. From the time of its birth Marxism was inexplicable outside of the transformations associated with the rise of capitalism, a social formation defined by an accumulative regime driven forward by the extraction of surplus associated with the wage system and production for profit (Broadberry). Marxism and the ideals introduced by Karl Marx were mainly the product of Capitalism in its whole. The reason for this is due to the classes that form in a Capitalist economy. Private corporations require workers and they were always either lower or middle class. This class formation that surfaced ultimately lead to the search for new social order, where people discovered communism.

During the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the workers were pressurized to work in poorly habituated factories and poorly compensated jobs. The classes that were formed during this industrialization was the root cause of this. As the workers started to get more and more fed up, the search for a new social came in to play. The search for a new social order where everyone had equal rights and pay. The capitalist system founded by the industrial revolution only caused the emergence of new communist ideals.

Works Cited

Broadberry, Stephen. "British Industrial Capitalism since the Industrial Revolution." The Journal of Economic History, vol. 58, no. 4, 1998, pp. 1136-1137. ProQuest,

Burg, Maxine, and Pat Hudson. "Rehabilitating the Industrial Revolution." The Economic History Review, vol. 45, pp. 24-50. JSTOR. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019.

Farr, James R. "Industry: Economic Transformations." World Eras, vol. 9: Industrial Revolution 

in Europe, 1750-1914, Gale, 2003, pp. 145-148. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.

Heller, Henry. The Birth of Capitalism: A 21st Century Perspective. Pluto Press, 2011. The Future of World Capitalism. JSTOR. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019.

Magraw, Roger. Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire. Detroit, MI, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019.

Palmer, Bryan D. Marxism and Radical History. Detroit, MI, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. Encyclopedia of European Social History 1. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Accessed 11 Mar. 2019.

Pelz, William A. A People's History of Modern Europe. Pluto Press, 2016. JSTOR. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019.

Sweeney, Dennis. "Labor Movements." Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter, vol. 3, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006, pp. 1283-1295. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.

Usdin, Shereen. 6 Non-Communicable 'Pandemics': The High Price of Big Business. New Internationalist Publications Ltd, Oxford, 2007. ProQuest,



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