Great Britain’s liberal political structure in the eighteenth century provided a comfortable social environment for the first wave of modern industry in Europe. British social customs were clearly more advanced than anyone else on the continent, and that could be seen in British social movability. Those who could amass fortunes were able to represent themselves in the upper echelons of society. The British parliament represented the people better than any other institution on the continent, and it was through this representation that the new middle class would be able to institute their values early in the nineteenth century. No other government in Europe would allow such liberalization for decades after the British, and it was with this political power that Great Britain would be able to dominate economically for the next couple of centuries.
The British naval domination and mercantile power were prerequisites for the new industrial onset, but if it weren’t for the ingenious minds of John Locke and Adam Smith, these advancements would not have made it possible for the English to move past other European powers on the continent politically and economically. John Locke planted the seeds for democracy in Britain through his writings on liberal politics. Locke advocated freedom, liberty, and most importantly, private property. Locke’s ideas on private property were perhaps his most strongly held and vehemently argued ideals -because he believed that in order for there to be progress, people should be allowed to pursue their own economic interests without government interference. Adam Smith delved even more deeply into the issue, with his arguments on the “invisible hand” and laissez faire efficiencies.
The aforementioned British Enlightenment ideas were not the only advancements to allow the onset of the first industrial revolution. The monarchial successes in the seventeenth century after years of civil war could be seen through bureaucratic enlargement and court efficiencies that allowed for the growth of London and her ports. Ultimately, it would be rapid middle-class development that would allow Britain to dominate in the industrial revolution because the bourgeoisie would push for more rational commercial regulation and would be the class supporting the nation through expanded factory ownership in the following centuries. This social factor, along with the aforementioned political ones, allowed the British economy to flourish when much of the continent would lag behind for as long as a century.