Industrialization in the Continent of Europe with Special Reference to France, Germany, and Russia

Industrialization in the Continent of Europe:

The first countries to industrialize rapidly after Britain was Belgium and France. After the French Revolution, British goods flooded the continental markets delaying the economic growth of the continent. But Belgium and France had a history of technical skills and shred the rich mineral resources. Because they lacked credit and transport, their economic development proceeded slowly, but eventually, they overcame these difficulties.

Belgium was the first to introduce railways, machine tools, mechanized textiles, and new banking institutions. These innovations made her pre-eminent in continental industrialization. By mid-century Blegium was keeping pace with England and its self-sustaining economy was much admired. But toward the end of the 19th century, the population increased tremendously and its mines failed to produce sufficient coal and iron for domestic use. Belgium then began to import more of both materials than it exported.

Compared to other countries, industrialization in France was slow at the beginning of the 19th century, This was due to war, disorder, and inflation. The only sector to have made progress was cotton spinning. France lacked adequate supplies of cooking coal and good quality iron-ore.

After the French Revolution, with the direct participation of the government of Louis Philippe and later subsidies from Napoleon III, French industries developed behind a wall of tariffs. The construction of railways began in 1842 and helped the process of industrialization. In 1848, 1800 kilometers were opened to traffic as against 10,000 kilometers in England, Germany, and even Belgium. The most active period of construction was between 1852 and 1860. About 9,000 kilometers were in use in 1860 and their length had doubled in 1870.

Along with the introduction of railways, power-driven machinery revolutionized French textile industries. From the middle of the 19th century, several factors were responsible for the growth of the French industries i.e. unification of the home market by railways, the use of new techniques in various sectors, and the development of foreign competition.

The average annual rate of industrial growth in France between 1815 and 1913 was about 1.61 percent. Although their achievements at home were not flattering, French capitalists and engineers prompted industrialization on the continent. By 1814 French foreign loans amounted to about 10 billion dollars. French capital and engineers also built the Suez Canal in 1869.

Despite vast resources of coal and iron, Germany was originally more backward than France. Most Germans were peasants. The capital was lacking and commercial banking was non-existent. There was scarcely a beginning of industrialization in the first quarter of the 19th century. The formation of a Customs Union (Zollverein) in 1834 which embraced most German States by 1842 removed many trade barriers. Apart from enlarging markets for agricultural goods, it also served to stimulate commerce and create a desire for improved means of communication. In 1839 with aid from the British capital, the first important German railway was built and by 1848 there were some 400 miles of railways connecting Berlin with Hamburg, Prague, and Vienna. The political unification of Germany created the largest single market in Europe.

After 1874 industrial investment took the lead. It rose from 14 percent in the early 1850s to more than 56 percent at the end of the 19th century. By 1875 Germany was producing more iron and coal than France and Belgium. By 1910 she became the greatest industrial producer in Europe and the second trading nation in the world.

Till 1870, 64 percent of the population of Germany was still rural and agricultural. But after 1870 changes become so rapid that defied description. The dazzling rate of growth was due to the adoption of the latest technology as well as the character and intelligence of the German people. The 19th-century industry was founded on coal and iron, and the German Empire possessed many of these resources. As Keynes observed with some exaggeration: “The German Empire has been built more truly on coal and iron than blood and iron.”

In sharp contrast industrialization in Russia was slow and uneven. Russian resources were immense but its institutions were primitive. Emancipated but illiterate peasants constituted a vast segment of the population, but a landed aristocracy dominated society. As late as 1900 about 80 percent of the population derived its income from agriculture.

The Czarist government, defeated militarily by industrial powers in 1856 and 1878, took interest in the economic development of the country. The Crimean War led to the rapid growth of railroads. By 1870 there were about 11,000 kilometers of track. The railroads did not cross Siberia until 1905. The government laid special emphasis on heavy industry rather than on consumer goods. At the opening of the 20th century, Russia was fourth in pig iron production. The period from 1906 to 1914 witnessed spectacularly rapid investment and growth.

Elsewhere industrialization appeared slowly before 1870. Holland, Sweden, Spain, and Poland took the lead. Bohemia including Prague and Austria especially Vienna became the centers of new mechanized industry. Cavour of Italy promoted industrialization by bringing a few steam engines into Northern Italy (Piedmont). But, by and large, Europe, with the exception of Britain, France, Belgium, and Germany, was before 1870, more or less agricultural.

The United States was endowed with rich resources and her great potential attracted foreign capital. Immigrants and enterprisers built the superb railroad network that linked east and west into one gigantic market. By 1870 that network was tied with steamship lines on both oceans allowing the commerce of the world to flow in. After 1861 the United States forged ahead with the support of the government which was aware of the needs of industry, agriculture, and finance.

Japan emerged rapidly after 1860 from feudalism and set out to modernize the country. Borrowing from advanced nations, the government-sponsored industry and commerce. Despite serious shortages of raw materials, the industry grew rapidly after 1890.

Industrial Revolution
Impact of the Industrial Revolution
Gandhiji Approach to Industrial Relations
Gandhian Socialism
Gandhi View on Economic Equality
Gandhi Views on Nationalism and Internationalism
Revolt Of 1857
Early Indian Nationalism
India Between AD 750-1200– NIOS

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