Discuss the reasons that helped Industrial Revolution and political liberalization spread first and fast in Western Europe during the 18th and 19th century. Analyze their implications.
Industrial revolution originated first in Western Europe, particularly Britain, and then spread to other European nations like France, Germany, Portugal and Italy. Political liberalization means a movement for political sovereignty of people to some extent, or in other words, loosening of government control over certain matters such as trade and industry. Political liberalisation contributed to greater openness and multiparty competition in Western Europe.
Reasons that helped Industrial Revolution and Political Liberalization flourish first in Western Europe are:
Western European countries like Portugal, Spain, France and Britain had colonies in different parts of world. They exploited their colonies and drained most of the wealth and natural resources required for industries.
Policy of mercantilism
Western European nations during the 17th and 18th century promoted the policy of mercantilism. As per this policy, colonies were supposed to help their mother country by supplying raw materials and by buying finished goods.
Use of fiat currency rather than barter system
Use of fiat currency for wages and salaries or medium of exchange was popular in Britain and other western European countries. Money motivated the people for commercial activities and demand for liberalization.
Britain was surrounded by water on its sides. This made trade through sea a viable option for the merchants. Similarly, geographical location of Germany and France favoured Industrial development. Contrary to this, most of the Eastern European countries were land locked and faced geographical disadvantage.
Availability of vital natural resources
Western Europe, particularly Britain, was known for availability of coal and iron, the two major resources for industry. France and Germany were not as rich as Britain in terms of natural resources but this didn’t impede their goal of becoming industrialised nations.
Technological inventions and transportation facilities- The technological inventions first took in Britain and later in France and Germany. Invention of steam engine led the countries to build huge network of railways. Besides railways, construction of canals for transportation also encouraged international trade.
Industrial Revolution had positive as well as negative implications on society
- Industrialization increased the prosperity and powers of European nations.
- Traders, contractors and factory owners accumulated huge amount of wealth.
- Gave birth to new towns and cities
- Encouraged national and international unity
- System of banking and credit developed
- Destruction of small-scale industries
- Increased income inequality in the society (391 words)