I don’t agree with quite a lot of this article, but its interesting nonetheless.
For thousands of years, most people on earth lived in abject poverty, first as hunters and gatherers, then as peasants or laborers. But with the Industrial Revolution, some societies traded this ancient poverty for amazing affluence.
Historians and economists have long struggled to understand how this transition occurred and why it took place only in some countries. A scholar who has spent the last 20 years scanning medieval English archives has now emerged with startling answers for both questions.
Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, believes that the Industrial Revolution “” the surge in economic growth that occurred first in England around 1800 “” occurred because of a change in the nature of the human population. The change was one in which people gradually developed the strange new behaviors required to make a modern economy work. The middle-class values of nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save emerged only recently in human history, Dr. Clark argues. Theory of Affluence
Only an economist would call it “abject poverty“. Capitalism and it’s insidious spreading disease around the world hasn’t always been so great.
Clark does admit that primitive hunter/gatherers ate better then the affluent of society.
I also don’t perceive the “change in the nature” of humans. We’re influenced by our environmental and social conditions, but humans appear to be pretty much the same as ever imo.
This “theory” seems rather strange to me. The industrial revolution was also characterized by cheaper and cheaper energy, which gave rise to an abundant agriculture explosion, which gave rise to huge populations, which created higher and higher productivity of the classes.
For example, a single barrel of oil represents 8,000 man hours of labor. And for a long time, oil could be easily pumped from the ground. This enabled men to exploit both the oil resources and the energy benefit it created. Inventions followed on the internal combustion engine and created a huge abundance of everything – agriculture, cities and population.
Even steam energy created a huge work advantage and the fuel necessary (primarily coal) was readily available and could be exploited by steam itself.
Of course, all this industrialization resulted in the over exploitation of all the natural resources throughout the world. Now, with oil energy in serious decline, the civilization that this all built is in peril.
The danger that I see with a theory of this type is “affluence”. This always comes at the expense of something else. Yet affluence is thought (always) as being good and benign, a dangerous concept.
If the Industrial Revolution was caused by changes in people’s behavior,