By the late 1800s, a rift formed between strict Marxists, who believed in revolution to end capitalism, and social democrats, who believed in the possibility of peaceful reform.

Diagram of a timeline from before 1850 to past the year 2000.
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Since Marx's lifetime, communism has spread globally and then declined.

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How much time elapsed between the Soviet Union's gaining control of Eastern Europe and the end of the Soviet Union?

In the late 1800s, Russian socialists embraced Marxism and formed a communist party to bring about revolution. In 1917, the Russian Revolution set up a communist government there that lasted until 1991. During the 1900s, revolutionaries in countries from China to Cuba adapted Marxist ideas to their own situations and needs. Independence leaders in Asia, Latin America, and Africa often experimented with Marxist ideas.

Marxism Loses Its Appeal

Marx claimed that his ideas were based on scientific laws. However, many of his ideas turned out to be wrong. He predicted that the misery of the proletariat would touch off a world revolution. Instead, by 1900, the standard of living of the working class improved in industrially developed countries. He also predicted that workers would unite across national borders to wage class warfare.

Instead, people continued to feel stronger ties to their own countries than to any international workers' movement. Finally, by the late 1900s, the few nations that had experimented with communism were moving away from government control of the economy and were adding elements of free-market capitalism.


  1. Summarize How did the middle class live during the Industrial Revolution?
  2. Describe What was life like for working-class women during the Industrial Revolution?
  3. Cite Evidence What key social and economic changes did industrialization bring about, both for the better and for the worse? Explain your answer with evidence from the text.
  4. Identify Main Ideas What were the historical origins and characteristics of the free enterprise system?
  5. Identify Patterns How did the Industrial Revolution impact the development of modern economic systems? In your answer, identify the economic systems that arose during that period.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments