It was already visible at the beginning of the 19th century and it will be become more and more visible as the century progresses. The industrial revolution was a concatenation of events which took place over a long period of time. It began in the 1750s and lasted at least 100 years. Its impact was gradual.
There were technological innovations, the growth of the population, an increasing agricultural efficiency (new agricultural technologies and forms of cultivations which meant that the workforce in the countryside was becoming redundant, so people moved from the countryside to the cities where there was more work). There was also a developing of the financial culture. All the activities reached their climax in the Victoria Age, when writes began to address the problem of industrialisation.
The effects were wide-ranging on society, on the economy, on politics. It affected also the individual life, the health of people, the life of children, but also the configuration of the land, the cities, the towns, the villages, and the countryside.
Marx travelled to England. In the year 1845n he published a report of what he had seen, “The Condition of the Working Class”. It begins saying that England is completely different from what it was 100 years before. He says “Merry England had disappeared”: Merry England is a cliché used to describe all the traditions of the Old England: a rural society with a very social structure. He gives a topographical description of the city, but also the human landscape. He analyses all the problems and concentrates on the phenomenon of the slums, the stunted, the crowding, and the rush of the modern city, the noise, the dirt and the pollution. Then he describes the psychological impact. He talks about the isolation of people, antagonism between people and the exploitation as well. There is no sense of community.
In the middle of the 19th century there were 2 different voices among the intellectuals:
Those who celebrated industrialism as the new greatness of England.
And those who thought that industrialism brought about decline and regression.
All this has consequences for the idea of national identity: was the real England the one of the countryside and tradition or that of technological progress, innovation and urbanisation?
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