The Industrial Revolution was unquestionably one of the most important factors in laying the foundation of the modern world. It not only transformed the economic means of production and distribution, but also altered the political systems, the social institutions and values, and the intellectual and cultural life of all the societies that it touched. The impact has been not only massive but controversial as well. Where proponents have alluded to the enormous material and technological benefits that industrialization has brought in its wake, critics have pointed out the high costs involved, from growing economic inequality to the dehumanization of everyday life. Already in the nineteenth century, German philosopher Karl Marx charged that factory labor had reduced workers to a mere “appendage of the machine,” and the English writer Charles Dickens described in his novels an urban environment of factories, smoke, and ashes that seemed an apparition from Dante’s Hell.