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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

With hindsight it can be stated that the outcome of the Industrial Revolution was that human beings no longer needed to go out and grab other people’s possessions by force, but merely to settle down, work hard and exchange the considerable surplus they produced for something they wanted from the surplus someone else produced. How simple it all seems! Yet how hard to put into practice.

Findlay Dunachie (1928-2005 – his funeral is today) in The Success of the Industrial Revolution and the Failure of Political Revolutions: How Britain Got Lucky, page 6, published in 1996 by the Libertarian Alliance.

4 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • GCooper

    This isn’t a good time to quibble, I realise: but wasn’t it the slow development of agriculture, begining some 13,000 years ago, that actually established the ability to trade?

    Or is my Neolithic history out of date?

  • mike

    GCooper: the vastly increased potential scale of trade following the IR is what is impressive, not simply trade per se.

  • GCooper

    mike writes:

    “the vastly increased potential scale of trade following the IR is what is impressive, not simply trade per se.”

    Perhaps. But that wasn’t the point I was responding toin the original post.

  • Midwesterner

    GCooper, interesting thought, but possibly not. The Hudson’s bay fur etc trade was huge with nary a speck of agriculture involved. It depended on trade and shipping infrastructure.

    And while the development of agriculture was vitally important to the advancement of civilization, it took mechanization to bring it to full fruition.

    Remember, for most of it’s history, agriculture relied on almost as many farmers as consumers. As an example, I live on a farm that my grandfather farmed well into the industrial age. It was about 55 acres and 12 to 15 cows when my grandfather farmed it. It took a family to run it. As recently as 15-20 years ago I farmed approximately 40 acres with a much greater yield, working by my self seasonally part time. I could plow in an afternoon what took my grandfather a week and required the ongoing care of horses year round.

    In the early part of the twentieth century, reduction of labor was occurring all over this area as farms mechanized. Into this gap, General Motors brought a factory and hired all those kids that would have been pitching hay a generation earlier.

    Now, farms are hundreds of acres, cows that used to give 3000 pounds of milk per year give 20,000. Corn fields that used to yield maybe 30 bushels/acre are now yielding 150. The GM plant employs thousands, and thousands more are employed in businesses that support GM and its employees through manufacturing, services, retail, etc. Our farms are far more productive than 80 years ago but we are also support a massive industrial production sector and an even bigger services sector.