The Industrial Revolution is the name given to the massive social, economic, and technological change in 18th century and 19th century Great Britain. It commenced with the introduction of steam power (fuelled primarily by coal) and powered, automated machinery (primarily in textile manufacturing). The technological and economic progress of the Industrial Revolution gained momentum with the introduction of steam-powered ships, boats and railways. In the 19th Century it spread throughout Western Europe and North America, eventually impacting the rest of the world.
The advent of The Enlightenment provided an intellectual framework which welcomed the practical application of the growing body of scientific knowledge – a factor evidenced in the systematic development of the steam engine, guided by scientific analysis, and the development of the political and sociological analyses, culminating in Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.
Karl Marx saw the industrialization process as the logical dialectical progression of feudal economic modes, necessary for the full development of capitalism, which he saw as in itself a necessary precursor to the development of socialism and eventually communism. According to Marx, industrialization engenders the polarization of societies into two classes, the bourgeoisie – those who own the means of production, i.e. the factories and the land, and the much larger proletariat – the working class who actually perform the labor necessary to extract something valuable from the means of production. Marx asserts that the relationship between the two classes is fundamentally parasitic, insofar as the proletariat are always undercompensated for the true value of their labor by the bourgeoisie (according to the labor theory of value), which allows the bourgeoisie to grow absurdly wealthy through nothing more than the wholesale exploitation of the proletarians' labor.
Rapid advancements in technology left many skilled workers unemployed, as one agricultural and manufacturing task after another was mechanized. The flight of millions of newly unemployed people from rural areas or small towns to the large cities, and thus the development of large urban population centers, led to unprecedented conditions of poverty in the slums that housed workers for the new factories. At the same time, the bourgeois class, at only a small fraction of the proletariat's size, became exceedingly wealthy.
Marx says that the industrial proletariat will eventually develop class consciousness and revolt against the bourgeois, leading to a more egalitarian socialist and eventually Communist state where the workers themselves own the means of industrial production.