Economic Revolution: History and Theories


The history of the economic revolution has been traced by different authors from different periods in time. Some trace it in great Europe. The economic revolution is defined as the transition of modes of production from the hands of individuals. The change in the modes of production means a change in economic status. By 1848 Europe was recovering from the massive disturbing effects of the 1789 French revolutions. The revolution sparked as a political one but ended as an economic revolution.

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What triggered the revolution?

The aftermath of the revolution was severe, and every leader in Europe did what they could to suppress the seeds of unrest sowed in Europe by the revolution. The reign of Napoleon Bonaparte was major characterized by wars, which made Europe a continuous sick continent. Napoleon’s ambition to conquer the whole of Europe kept the concentration of the entire continent on endless wars, which stopped when he was conquered in 1815. The economy of the United Kingdom was not grossly affected by this war, and when other countries returned from the war with tough economic issues to settle, the United Kingdom had not lost much. This was due to the issue of colonies, which enhanced the smooth flow of raw materials (King, p.43).

Even before the 1789 French revolution, the world had one major economic outlook; capitalism. The United Kingdom was the champion in that world as far as capitalism was concerned. However, it should be noted that the fundamental rights which resulted in the French revolution were disseminated in the United Kingdom as well as other parts of European countries such as Italy, Germany, and Austria. Massive riots and demand for human rights opened a door for an economic revolution started by workers. The first trial by the workers to riot so that their demands would be attended to was met with suppression and defeat due to poor coordination (Roberts, p.227).

In 1844 there appeared what in the eyes of the workers as a savior, the writings of Karl Marx and Fred rich Engel in the Communist Manifesto. The relevance of the two philosophers to the conditions of the day was seen by many workers when they sensitized them to unite. The initial plan behind the writing of the Communist Manifesto was to use the book as a tool to change the economies of Europe to communism.

Marx believed that European countries could be changed to communism, whereby the modes of production would change from the bourgeoisie class to the working class. He called the revolution a proletariat revolution, which depended on the unity of the workers to put down their tools and organize themselves (Roberts, p.227).

Obviously, the idea seemed brilliant, but it did not go well with the United Kingdom, which had an economy that basically depended on human labor. However, by this time, workers had been given a strategy of how to unite and defeat the oppressor. Their efforts were reflected when they formed the Communist League, which was the umbrella to take workers to the next level. The communism state which Karl Marx predicted was to go through the socialism stage then after a sometimes change into communism. He took his keen analysis of how, through history, each society had been organized. He further showed how the feudal slave societies had classes and the use of classes in control and exploitation. He was determined and would spread much of his ideology whenever he went, which he would later reflect in his formation of the worker’s unions (King, p.43).

The revolution

It was through resistance and suppression of Karl Marx’s idea by the capitalist states that made it difficult for an entire world revolution on the economy. Substantial changes to fill the gap of the revolutionary workers and the mounting pressure by workers organizations led to industrial and technological advancement to cut down labor and replace it with machines in the factories. New machines to replace human labor were put in place. This was a major economic revolution, which in turn gave birth to increased prices in the market since cheap labor had disappeared. The most noted historical revolution in the economy was witnessed in Russia in the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, whereby the modes of production rested in the hands of the government. This stage was part of the transition stage, according to Karl Marx, which was the last stage of communism.

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The success of Russia and the Soviet bloc was viewed by many as the coming true of the Marxist prophecy. China and Cuba followed with economic revolutions which shocked the world. It’s with no doubt that we today have two economic outlooks; capitalism and communism. It could be, the two oppose each other in ideology, and they seem antagonistic, but some countries like America and China have a mixed type of economy (Heilbroner, p.490).


The history of economy and economic revolutions has many theories to explain how it came into existence. It should then remembered earlier above, the French revolution and the writings of Karl Marx in the communist Manifesto played a key role in catalyzing the economic revolutions experienced by states. However, a note should be taken that the revolution of the economy is not static, and every day it goes on.

Works cited

Heilbroner, Louis. “Economic Revolution” The Worldly Philosophers, 16(3) 2000.

King, Michael. The Penguin History of New Zealand, Auckland, Penguin Books 2003.

Roberts, James. The New Penguin History of the World, New York, New Penguin publishers, 2007.

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