Democracy and Industrialization
Democracy is a trite concept nowadays but its real meaning and implications are often vague in practice. Political leaders and civic groups abused its significance to justify their actions. Democratic ideas have been able to influence the philosophies behind the world’s most ancient leaders and political figure. The power of democracy has expanded and been carried out during the era of Cleisthenes and Pericles in ancient Athens, Vaclav Havel during the modern Czech Republic, Thomas Jefferson in his Declaration of Independence in 1776, and Andrei Sakharov through his last speeches in 1989 (Cincotta, 2007).
As Abraham Lincoln said, “Democracy is government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is then generally defined as a form of government in which the supreme power is given to the people and is exercised through their duly elected representatives (Cincotta, 2007).
On the other hand, industrialization is the application of technological inventions to aid the mass production of products and services. Often, economic development is associated with the level of industrialization that a country has achieved. At the start of industrial revolution in the 18th century, feudal nations have changed into a market-oriented social structure (Cooney, 1997). Industrialization created entrepreneurs – merchants and traders – who pioneered commercial establishments. The industrialization process has also paved the way for the emergence of the working class into the society.
Democracy is not only tantamount to preset principles or laws on the governance of the state; government rather is only one of the elements in a societal structure. This means that in a democratic society, the government has a harmonious coexistence with other social institutions. This diverse existence is called “pluralism” and assumes that societal institutions are independent in terms of their existence, legitimacy, or authority (Cincotta, 2007). Economic development led to the establishment of democratic institutions for it entails equality to access and distribution of societal wealth. On the contrary, the concentration of economic wealth in the hands of the few elite capitalists resulted to the loss and bankruptcy of small-scale firms. This uneven distribution of wealth had created serious social and political implications. Often, the power of the elite class is exercised to protect their own interests while leaving the working class at the losing end by providing them with unjust compensation and longer working hours.
The United States of America
The data presented by the US International Information Program, Britain’s colonies in the American land were recognized as the United States of America territories after the Treaty of Paris in 1783. In turn, The United States founders made a promise for freedom and equality which were exercised by forming a series of laws and policies that were geared to uphold the rights of the Americans. As such, in 1788, the constitution was promulgated to evoke an electoral system and freedom and civil rights. In the late 1860s after the Civil War, the freed slaves became citizens with a nominal right to vote (Cincotta, 2007).
The governance of the United States has been an experimental democracy. This system has evolved from Jeffersonian Democracy to Jacksonian Democracy and beyond. The social and political issues and concerns that were raised in their early years were continuously addressed and resolved. These include civil rights, systems of governance and industrialization. In the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 nations were added to the original 13 members of the United States as they expanded across the North American continent and overseas territories. The United States have been developed through continual process of adaptation and transformation (Cincotta, 2007).
The industrial revolution began in England in the 18th century and was characterized by economic growth and development. This includes mass production and the influx of services through factory system and successful innovations in the means of transportation and mechanical operations. Population in the urban areas was increased primarily due to the increase of the population of the working class. Over population resulted to overcrowded slums, inadequate social services, and a host of related problems. However, the agricultural economy was left stagnant due to the migration of peasants to industrial places. On the other hand, the middle class benefited most from the huge profits of their firms (Cooney, 1997).
In 1800’s the United States had produced machines necessary for industrial production. Textiles and light metals industries became prominent in 1820’s. By 1830’s the metal industry in Pennsylvania has forged iron into agricultural tools, railroad tracks and construction materials. In mid-1800’s, agricultural, construction, and mining industries have reached the western part of the United States. Manufacturing accounted for a third of its production in 1860 while agricultural products were two-thirds the value of its exports. By the late 1800’s, the United States became the largest and most competitive nation in the world. By 1870, manufacturing industries had rolled faster than the agricultural sector. Products are manufactured through machineries and factory system, and as such, planned and organized management are thus requisites in order to efficiently operate machineries. The firm owners controlled the industrial production while the working class began to organize to evoke their rights for higher wages and improved working conditions. Moreover, the means of transportations and communications had improved; urban populations and standards of living had increased (Lamphard, n.d.)
Industrialization in Other Countries
Until the end of the cold war, economic development was attributed only to industrialization. Some sociologists said that economic development may endanger democracy. However, third world nations believed that industrialization will provide them with avenues for economic progress. Although some have argued that within the course of history, the truth is that neither economic development is responsible for the emergence of democracy nor is democracy for industrialization (Elmusa, 2005). But rather, one is crucial to sustain the other. For instance, Japan became an industrialized country under both authoritarian and democratic form of government. Between the end of the 19th century and World War II, Japan established its industrial base and in the post-war period rebuilt its industrial glory under a democratic government. China as reined by communist leaders for 50 years began its industrialization in the second half of this period. At the other side, India under democracy has produced different outcomes. Moreover, autocracy has led Asian nations such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia to industrialization.
Industrialization can take place regardless of the form of government that is prevalent in a country. In many other ways, industrial revolution can be attributed to a wide range of options, factors and possibilities including the state’s own capacity and autonomy, the presence of vision and nationalism for the people, cooperation between the state and business entities, education, suppression of labor, and the capacity to hold regional economic powers regardless of the form of government that rules any certain country (Elmusa, 2005).
Furthermore, industrialization is most probably sustained by the type of political system. For instance, in Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, industrialization was temporarily hindered by dictatorship while it is sustained in East Asia as they shifted from dictatorship to democracy. Nevertheless, Singapore continuously progresses under authoritarianism (Elmusa, 2005).
As such, although the success of industrialization is not entirely dependent on the presence of democracy, raw facts gathered throughout the history may support that industrialization can be made more successful, fruitful and effective under the practice of democratic ideas.
Elmusa, S.(2005). Freedom and growth. Al-Ahram, Issue No. 764. Retrieved October 9, 2008, from http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/764/index.htm
Lampard, E. E. (n.d.) U.S. Industrialization. Retrieved October 8, 2008, from http://www.puhsd.k12.ca.us/chana/staffpages/eichman/Adult_School/us/fall/industrialization/1/us_industrialization.htm
Cooney, P. L. (1997). Industrialism. The Vernon Johns Society. Retrieved October 8, 2008, from http://www.vernonjohns.org/vernjohns/rnindus.html
Cincotta, E. (2007). Defining democracy. U.S. International Information Programs. Retrieved October 8, 2008, from http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/whatsdem/whatdm2.htm