The world is not only what we have made it but is also a product of earlier generations' efforts. "Today is the child of yesterday," as the Arabs put it. Thus, to fully grasp the present, we must first understand the past. The great thinkers wrote what they did because they had unusual talents, but they were also strongly influenced by their times. Locke, Madison, Bakunin, Marx, Mill, Hitler, Mao, and all the others can be fully appreciated only in the light of their historical, intellectual, political, social, and economic circumstances. Yet, although these ideologues were influenced by situations particular to their respective ages, they each responded to a common phenomenon—modernization.
The most fundamental feature of this era, the event that has done more to distinguish this period in history from all others and has contributed most heavily to shaping our environment, is the industrial revolution. Industrialization is the latest stage in the chain reaction begun by the scientific method and its application to technology. The shift from making things by hand to mechanized production changed the world dramatically. The reaction to industrialization varied among observers. Some, like Adam Smith, reveled in its potential benefits; others, including Marx, argued that people were robbed of their skills and reduced to being mere tenders of machines, but he looked forward to improved social conditions with the equal distribution of the newly produced bounty; and still more... [something something Hitler].
Text from Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impact by Leon P. Baradat