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What kickstarted the Industrial Revolution?

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 Jul 2010 at 21:18
Hello to you all
 
Probably the most important event in the last 300 years was the industrial revolution. This event changed the face of the world and accelerated developement to the extent that it is today.
 
For mellenia the world was virtually static and there was little difference in life style and economic developement between 1700 AD and 1700 BC except in maybe a handful of technologies that were limited in their influence. Then came the industrial revolution.
 
The common theory that is accepted by most historians is that textile industry was probably the kickstart of the industrial revolution since it was here that mass production became possible with the introduction first of several technological innovations (most important of them the spinning jenny and flying shuttle), it was arguably where the first "factories" came into being and finally it provided the excess capital that was in return reinvested in other projects like mining, slave trade, canal building which had a multiplier effect on the economy.
 
The reason for this thread is to discuss the validity of the theory above. No one of course can deny the massive economic effect the textile industry had on Britain. However it was not until after the Napoleonic wars  that Britain began to become an export based economy since (According to Hobsbawm) before that period Britain exported 4 yards of cotton for every 3 consumed.
 
On the other hand the role of metallurgy in the industrial revolution is often downplayed (at least from what I have read). Unlike textiles the margin of profit here was low and it was almost entirely for domestic purposes. Yet it was here where the most important technological developements happened namely the first practical uses of the steam engine and the beginnings of industrial mechanisation. The first real factories were the iron and copper foundaries not the textile mills. The first real mechanised mass production was done when the Royal Navy decided to copper sheath their entire fleet back in the 1770s, a massive project that was the closest thing to the "war economy" of WWII.
 
So which was the economic sector that in your mind had the most decisive role in the industrial revolution?
 
Al-Jassas
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jul 2010 at 22:56
Though not at all claiming to be an expert in the field It is hard to avoid the idea that there was a much broader background. At the time of the beginning of industrial world, there had allready been some british world dominance in naval power and ttrade for some time, and Northern England, especially Liverpool seems to have been at the center of Atlantic trade, not least in slaves and colonial products (cotton among others). So colonail and european leadership in trail may have made the big fortunes possible, later somehow partly lead to the new industrial enterprizes.
Then to be one of the leading countries in research and sciences may have helped a lot too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2010 at 01:45
This could be an interesting thread. I'm not sure which economic sector played the most important role in the Industrial Revolution, but I'm slightly skeptical that the world was virtually static between 1700 BC and 1700 AD. The key difference to bear in mind is that while life for the ordinary people on the fields tended to change little with the onset of new technologies during the Renaissance era, the emergence of the scientific method revolutionised everything the world had previously held dear. What probably lacked was not the dearth of innovation (The 16th and 17th centuries are full of great minds innovating in a variety of ways) but the means to apply the innovations in a practical way. Frequent wars, absolute monarchs and religious obscuritanism stifled creativity and prevented the application of potentially socially revolutionary reforms, but this doesn't mean that the 'groundwork', so to speak, of the Industrial Revolution hadn't already been present.

P.S- I remember reading somewhere that the latter Roman Empire had developed a very elementary steam engine but that the powers that be were too distracted and decadent to see the potential applications of the device. It sounded like cadswallop to me at the time, but perhaps some of you may be able to prove it was true or not?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2010 at 02:48
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:



P.S- I remember reading somewhere that the latter Roman Empire had developed a very elementary steam engine but that the powers that be were too distracted and decadent to see the potential applications of the device. It sounded like cadswallop to me at the time, but perhaps some of you may be able to prove it was true or not?

Do you mean the aeolipile by the greek inventor Heron living in Alexandria in the 1th century AD? He made a lot of clever inventions but most of them were used as toys, or as props in temples and similar. The aeolipile was a rotating engine driven by steam.



Edited by Carcharodon - 11 Jul 2010 at 02:49
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2010 at 02:49
Hello Parnell
 
The "scientific revolution" if one might describe the discoveries of the 16th and 17th centuries had little to do with the industrial revolution. It was only in the 19th century when science really began to have an impact on industry when engineers began to systematically use mathematical and physical principle first to describe and then enhance their technical innovations. Before that things like blast furnaces, steam engines etc. were more of an art than a science.
 
As for the Romans, you are referring to Hero of Alexandria's Aeoliplie which was rather a toy than a real scientific break through. There were of course innovations before and after like wind/water powered mills (and even steam pumps) which were common all over the world but even these despite being state of the art were still not enough in themselves to produce a real industrial revolution (although some historians might argue otherwise).
 
When we analyse the economic situation of the 18th century (I will take the UK as an example) and comparing it with lets say the 16th or even the 1st centuries we will see a very different picture indeed. The nature of demand itself is so much different that one might not be surprised that the revolution started in the 18th century since it is the demand that shapes the supply not the other way around.
 
In the 18th century the urbanisation levels were much higher in europe than they were ever before(even during the Roman Empire's time) and unlike the desperately poor peasantry, city dwelllers (and we must take liberty here with the word city to include anything above 10k people) had a higher income level than the peasantry and thus more excess capital which they usually spent on luxuries. The total sum of the demand drove up the supply and with inventions reduced prices which drove the demand even higher since now more people were suddenly able to afford what they couldn't. This lead not only to economic growth but to a growth of money supply (according to the house of commons liberary research) which was as I said reinvested in the economy in innovative projects like canals, mines or even government bonds which introduced the 2nd point.
 
The 18th century also saw the largest expansion of government involvment in the economy ever. This century saw the establishment of a large standing army, massive expansion and then upgrading of the Royal navy, a lot of foreign wars and the formulation of the world's first real government backed trade policy. Almost all of this was financed by bonds that were sold to the public through the exchanges and those projects especially the industrial ones forced the industry to expand and later adopt to face the massive demand from the government. I forgot the numbers but the project to copper sheath the RN ships alone cost billions in today's pounds and took years to finish but by the end it made the UK the world's smelting mill.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2010 at 08:02
 Perhaps we may question the apparent "unrelatedness" of early science and the early industrial revolution in Britain. I have no proof at all, but a suspicion perhaps some historians did not "dig" deep enough, not least because most historians may be less familiar with sciences and engineering. Were Newtonian physics for instance completely irrellevant for early makers and inventors of machines, for mining, metallurgy etcetera? Newtons contemporary and rival, Leibnitz showed some interest in different types of enterprise.
And then again the early growth of both colonial empire and commercial leadership in Europe may have been intimately related with early industrialism (it is hard to see how it could not be).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2010 at 08:33
Perhaps we are discussing an incorrect label, the Industrial Revolution is essentially a misnomer since production on an "industrial" scale was known in both Europe and Asia long before the 6th century AD. What began in England in the 18th century was the efficient employment of coal as a source of power on ever increasing scales. Access to the fuel in cheap and large quantities is the key...there the difference between Georgian England and Qing China, whose own vast deposits were inaccesible to fast and inexpensive exploitation. Keep in mind that the first mass produced consumer item was not your proverbial English chintz, but Chinese porcelain! One may design the most wondrous engines and machinery, but absent fuel to feed them, all is but intellectual vainglory.
 
Or has no one hit upon the relationship between European coal deposits and the progress of "industrialization" during the course of the 19th century...be it the English Midlands, the Ruhr Valley, or the Pennsylvania hill country.
 
Revisionism? Perhaps, but as we stand at the setting of the Coal Age (enforced or otherwise) the crisis in contemporary society is definitely one that involves fuel!
 
PS: Yes, I am one of those "historians" that constantly rail about the inaccuracies of Romanticism in historical exposition and the misleading labels it propagated.


Edited by drgonzaga - 11 Jul 2010 at 08:37
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jul 2010 at 20:02
Hello Doc
 
You raise a good point when you refer to the explosion of coal use and that it was a fundamental difference between industry in the 18th century and before.
 
However I still disgree with your characterisation of the industrial revolution as a misnomer. Industrial production existed long before, I don't think anyone will disagree about that however it is the patterns of demand, comsumption and production that fundamentally changed in the 18th century than before combined of course with the expansion of coal power.
 
Industry before the 18th century made a paltry share of the GDP or national wealth. The number of people who were engaged in industry either as investors or workers was quite small compared with other sectors. Even the "mass" production that existed before was quite limited and had little effect on the final price of the product. Steam engines as well as other mechanical innovations (which by the way didn't work on coal, at least not in this stage) in addition to the introduction of the factory/mill system all happened in quite a short period in the 18th century resulting chain effect that incearsed production, reduced prices, increased consumption, accumulation in capital, more investments in other sectors etc.
 
The scope of such changed went beyond the economic arena to the social and political spheres which is practically a definition of a revolution, an event that leads to huge changes affecting all aspects of society.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2010 at 00:24
It's difficult to give priorities to a number of things without any of which the INdustrial Revolution would not have happened (or at least not when it did).
 
Firstly of course it took political stability, which wasn't finally established in Brtain until 1745. It also required to rise to political power of a bourgeois class, and security from foreign invasion - three requirements that weren't to be practically achieved in the major continental powers for around a nother century. 
 
It also took access to sufficient capital, which became abundant in Britain with the conquest of India and also from the strength of its mercantile fleet elsewhere (though it would be some time before the northern England ports overtook the west country: that was an effect of the revolution rather than a cause.
 
Only then do the various technological achievements become possible and people like the Lunar Society ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Society_of_Birmingham ) become able to implement their discoveries and inventions. It is engineering rather than science that drives the revolution, and that requires engineers to have reasonably high social status. 
 
And then you also need a free market and a government that desn't interfere with it too much, something that was relatively uncommon in the major continental powers. And a basic theoretical understanding of Smith's hobby horse - the division of labour, which remained a potent factor in manufacturing development right throgh to the late 20th century - symbolically maybe the major industry therefore might be taken to be the manufacture of pins.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2010 at 00:48
Hello Graham
 
Several coutries in Continental europe lacked some or even all the points you mentioned above and yet managed to achieve an industrial revolution of their own like France and the various German states.
 
Of course the economic conditions and policies of Britain made its industrial revolution far more stronger and have a much longer effect but it shows that you can have a revolution without political stability (France) or excess capital (Germany).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2010 at 01:00
Not to quibble, but much of the objection to my plaint against the so-called Industrial Revolution demands the acceptance of common fallacies predicated upon contemporary prejudices that assert that we are much different from all that went before. Al Jassas did it not strike you as odd that when you resorted to the defense of "mass" production you employed the term "factory/mill" system. You could just as easily have been describing sugar production in the 17th century! Shall we discuss the feitoria and the engenho as essential to the mass production of a commodity, which did reduce prices, increase consumption, and accumulate capital to such a degree as to maintain an entire host of parasites growing fat from the phenomenon? [Everyone will of course pardon my straying into socialist sin with the last phrasing] Man is a resourceful animal who will always tinker with what is at hand in order to resolve the problematics of needed energy. We all know what happened to coal once those oil fields in Baku proved attractive in the middle of the 19th century.
 
Here's to you Mrs. Robinson...naphta!Wink
 
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 12 Jul 2010 at 01:01
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jul 2010 at 22:15
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello Graham
 
Several coutries in Continental europe lacked some or even all the points you mentioned above and yet managed to achieve an industrial revolution of their own like France and the various German states.
 
Of course the economic conditions and policies of Britain made its industrial revolution far more stronger and have a much longer effect but it shows that you can have a revolution without political stability (France) or excess capital (Germany).
 
Al-Jassas
It didn't just make the British industrial revolution stronger, it made it earlier. To me at least the concept of revolution involves innovation, not just later imitation. The constellation of reasons I quoted (and there were more, like the development of steam power) came together in Britain first.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2010 at 06:11
When a new discovery is made, it takes creativity and ingenuity to apply that to real life and get some benefit out of it. Human knowledge and discovery were made in isolated parts of the worlds, sometimes these remained unknown to the rest of the world and not available or fully available for practical applications. Most humans individually and as a  group strive towards the same evolutionary goal of survival (propagation of genes and control of resource to ensure that propagation).

As devastating as the Mongol invasion was for Eurasian land mass, Pax Mongolica, transmitted many ideas from East to West and West to East.

Moorish Spain also made available to Europe the full complement of the knowledge of Islamic civilization, since that time.

Western Europe, the part of Europe that was spared from Mongol invasion (my old theory described in another thread), left undisrupted, (as compared to the rest of Eurasia, where most of the major civilizations were disrupted from invasions and occupation) remained a cauldron of untapped potential. This is because the dark ages, since the fall of Roman empire, till the advent of Renaissance, much has happened in Europe, mainly internal conflicts, but it was never completely subjugated or occupied by an alien civilization, as Hungary, Poland or Russia was.

So, IMHO, the Historical Continuity of Western Europe, a lucky accident of history, enabled Europe to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves on the global scene. This fundamental cause factor gave rise to several effect phenomenons:

- utilization of knowledge from the rest of the world and the birth of Renaissance
- maritime dominance and eventual colonization of America's
- taking over of vast eastern societies in Asia as overseas mercantile colonies
- finally industrial revolution as a means to take advantage of the prevailing global scene, where capital became available from earlier colonial forays to be invested for domestic mechanized industries, raw materials were available in the colonies under control, mechanized value addition could be done at home and then resold in the colonial market, as a result profit could be retained at home. At the beginning of maritime trade between Europe and India/China, there was net outflow of gold and capital towards the east. The industrial revolution destroyed the artisan industrial base of the east, which could not compete with mechanized industries in the West. Unfavorable policies of colonial powers also prevented eastern entrepreneurs to set up mechanized industries to compete with the west and so a great capital flight took place from the east towards the west in the past centuries, which is slowly being reversed in recent decades

Ultimately the European maritime powers sought to control global economy, which they already achieved before the industrial revolution, and industries was just another later tools, like earlier ship building and gun powder technologies which were used ingeniously to solidify global control.

Japan, a later entrant, with a similar undisrupted society, also achieved remarkable success in industries, because the society already had the potential to do so, accumulated in its Historical Continuity of several millennium.

So IMHO, it is not external phenomenons, many of whom may have had some minor role, but it is the Historical Continuity of a large system, and its resulting internal cohesiveness, that provided its competitive edge which was manifested in its demonstrated success as a first mover, to be creative and ingenious in taking advantage of available information and resources and utilize it towards its own evolutionary goal of survival (propagating of genes and controlling as much resources as possible towards that end).

I guess I have tried to answer the question, why industrial revolution started in Western Europe. If the world scene was different, due to alternative history, a Renaissance and an industrial revolution could have started somewhere else, but an industrial revolution would start at some point, regardless of time and place, as a natural progression of human social evolution. The factors at that point in time was favorable for Western Europe to be the first mover.

Some have claimed that factors like food, religion and climate induced genetic evolutionary advantage may have helped Europe with its competitive edge. My feeling is that some of those factors, specially the third/last one, may have had some role, but the major one that tipped the balance in favor of a large system, was Historical Continuity, which I tried to explain in above and in another thread in much more detail.






Edited by eventhorizon - 13 Jul 2010 at 12:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2010 at 06:27
If there is any explanation at all (one may question if there is) that industrial revolution started in Britain and not anywhere else it is for me rather obvious to look at ultimately geographical factors, rather than some "evolutionary" or anything else indicating it had to happen (why should it ? and why not thundreds or thousands of years before or later). It seems hard to believe it is unrelated to maritime and commercial dominance and ultimately to the unique favourable geography at a certain epoch.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2010 at 18:59
Hello to you all
 
Hobsbawm in his book "Age of Revolution" points to a very intereting fact that differentiated Britain from the ret of the cntinent when it came to the flow of capital.
 
Unlike western europe (with the exception of France), every place in Britain that could be cultivated was cultivated by the middle of the 18th century and unlike europe land was almost the exclusive property of large scale owners/tenants and to a lesser extent yeomen. Already migration to the cities (and colonies) ha began in large numbers. This provided a lot of cheap labour and combined with accumulated capital from the trade with the Indies and the colonies made a perfect recipe for the industrial revolution. People wanted jobs, banks wanted outlets and businessmen wanted funding.
 
Now as I said France was in the same situation as Britain so why did the industrial revolution began in the latter and not the former? Well Hobsbawm points out to an intersting fact that the revolutionaries distributed land among the peasantry (I think he mentions a number of landowners close to 30% of the population) and when things settled in France there were so many landowners that it discouraged banks from financing industrial ventures which then were seen as high risk.
 
In fact French banks declined even to finance railways for about the same reasons and most French railway ventures were indeed financed by the British or the French government.
 
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Edited by Al Jassas - 13 Jul 2010 at 18:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2010 at 00:02
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

If there is any explanation at all (one may question if there is) that industrial revolution started in Britain and not anywhere else it is for me rather obvious to look at ultimately geographical factors, rather than some "evolutionary" or anything else indicating it had to happen (why should it ? and why not thundreds or thousands of years before or later). It seems hard to believe it is unrelated to maritime and commercial dominance and ultimately to the unique favourable geography at a certain epoch.
 
A geographical factor of some importance was the effective protection, in the technology of the day anyway, that the Channel and the North Sea gave the British Isles, which meant it was never invaded by anyone in the key period.
 
The advantage was much the same as that the US would benefit from in the 20th century.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2010 at 04:25
 
A geographical factor of some importance was the effective protection, in the technology of the day anyway, that the Channel and the North Sea gave the British Isles, which meant it was never invaded by anyone in the key period.
 
The advantage was much the same as that the US would benefit from in the 20th century.
[/QUOTE]  Yes, and I have an idea that the Island were in a geographical very favourable position allso in other ways. Britain and Ireland are the two only "great" Islands at the eastern "edge" of the Atlantic Ocean (or the "western edge" of the socalled "old world") - all others are small in comparison. The Island has a central position at the western European Atlantic Coast, in the middle between Gibraltar Strait And Northern Norway. In a historical epoch where dominating the waterways are what matters (between about late 15.th to early 20.th century) it must have been a favourable position "closer to the open ocean" than nearly all other parts of Europe. A very long coastline, making it easier for a large part of population to participate in all enterprises on the seas.
Most of the land low land and with not too many obstacles for internal transport (some good navigable rivers, and a terrain fit for building of canals, roads and later railways.) Then in addition relaticvely fertile land and accesible key raw materials like coal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2010 at 06:27
Talk about fallacious geographic determinism such as "closer to the open ocean" given the fact that the Iberian peninsula juts further out into the Atlantic than the rest of Europe altogether! One might just as easily argue that because England had a surplus of "idlers" driving down wage potential, this surplus humanity was more amenable to exploitation and wage slavery!Wink
 
Has anyone stopped to ask what exactly was being produced by the industrialization knavery and where?Evil Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jul 2010 at 03:56
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Talk about fallacious geographic determinism such as "closer to the open ocean" given the fact that the Iberian peninsula juts further out into the Atlantic than the rest of Europe altogether! One might just as easily argue that because England had a surplus of "idlers" driving down wage potential, this surplus humanity was more amenable to exploitation and wage slavery!Wink
 
Has anyone stopped to ask what exactly was being produced by the industrialization knavery and where?Evil Smile
Yes, but much more of the iberian peninsula lies at a distance from the shores making sea transport less relevant, compared to Britain where You hardly get as far from the shores. In addition it is more highland and mountains making internal transportation harder (look at the maps). But I never advocated deterministic viewpoints.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2010 at 00:00
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Yes, but much more of the iberian peninsula lies at a distance from the shores making sea transport less relevant, compared to Britain where You hardly get as far from the shores. In addition it is more highland and mountains making internal transportation harder (look at the maps). But I never advocated deterministic viewpoints.
 
Phooy to all of that since it is as incongruously irrelevant as the Lerner & Lowe lyrics, "the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain". It doesn't, and the maritime conditions you assert for the British Isles is just as predominant in the Iberian peninsula, and for that matter continental France, as there. If you do wish to inquire over the dark side of the purported revolution you have to look at the exploited misery of the English underclass (and yes Charles Dickens got it right) within an urban environment. This factor when joined to the availability of cheap energy fits the puzzle far, far better than any talk of maritimal meanderings. Just begin with the Enclosures of the 16th century and follow its tracks. Prety soon you will discover that the cost of labor in both France and Spain (as well as Portugal) remained high throughout the 17th and 18th centuries while in the British Isles they continued a precipitous drop.
 
 
That is not to say that the econometrics crowd have not gone full out to rationalize and speak of "real" wages and bring up the mumbo-jumbo of "spatial structures"--e.g.
 
 
--but as with all energy sources (chemical or human) their availability at low cost holds the key. Coal and human misery were in abundance in Britain (pace Karl Marx).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2010 at 03:05
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Yes, but much more of the iberian peninsula lies at a distance from the shores making sea transport less relevant, compared to Britain where You hardly get as far from the shores. In addition it is more highland and mountains making internal transportation harder (look at the maps). But I never advocated deterministic viewpoints.
 
and the maritime conditions you assert for the British Isles is just as predominant in the Iberian peninsula, and for that matter continental France, as there. 
I did not only wrote about some unspecified "maritime conditions" but "distance from the coast" - or, if You like , from seawater. Here I say there can be very little doubt that much more of the Iberian peninsula as well as France are far removed from the sea. There is simply no place in Britain as far from the sea as say Madrid. and the spanish interior. But of course coal (another geographical factor) played a role too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jul 2010 at 04:13
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Yes, but much more of the iberian peninsula lies at a distance from the shores making sea transport less relevant, compared to Britain where You hardly get as far from the shores. In addition it is more highland and mountains making internal transportation harder (look at the maps). But I never advocated deterministic viewpoints.
 
Phooy to all of that since it is as incongruously irrelevant as the Lerner & Lowe lyrics, "the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain". It doesn't, and the maritime conditions you assert for the British Isles is just as predominant in the Iberian peninsula, and for that matter continental France, as there. If you do wish to inquire over the dark side of the purported revolution you have to look at the exploited misery of the English underclass (and yes Charles Dickens got it right) within an urban environment. This factor when joined to the availability of cheap energy fits the puzzle far, far better than any talk of maritimal meanderings. Just begin with the Enclosures of the 16th century and follow its tracks. Prety soon you will discover that the cost of labor in both France and Spain (as well as Portugal) remained high throughout the 17th and 18th centuries while in the British Isles they continued a precipitous drop.
Effectively you are saying that the Industrial Revolution happened earlier in Britain because the agricultural revolution happened earlier in Britain.  Probably true, but that's just another factor in the constellation.
Quote
 
 
That is not to say that the econometrics crowd have not gone full out to rationalize and speak of "real" wages and bring up the mumbo-jumbo of "spatial structures"--e.g.
 
 
--but as with all energy sources (chemical or human) their availability at low cost holds the key. Coal and human misery were in abundance in Britain (pace Karl Marx).


Edited by gcle2003 - 16 Jul 2010 at 04:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2012 at 12:43

Agricultural revolution = more food = more population = more labour (bit like we see in China now - a huge reserve of labour coming off the land).

Empire - slavery.  There was available to the British Empire a free labour reserve that could be worked to death. THis was an enormous source of wealth - particularly in the form of cheap calories (sugar) for the domestic population and capital through sales to other countries.
Empire also provided a huge textiles market in India.
 
Technological innovation - steam and innovations in textiles. Better roads, canals and then of course railways were all v. important as well in bringing down transport costs and making goods relatively cheaper.
 
Law and finance - the UK already had a well developed legal and financial system that allowed joint stock companies, limited liability, loans and so on.  
 
Put it all together and you have an industrial revolution.
 
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2012 at 12:50
You have forgotten that land robbed to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Pacific also contributed quite a bit to the industrial revolution. From the new world came such sources of wealth like pricy metals, suggar and cotton.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2012 at 13:08
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

You have forgotten that land robbed to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Pacific also contributed quite a bit to the industrial revolution. From the new world came such sources of wealth like pricy metals, suggar and cotton.


Fully accepted - what Columbus did to the peacable Tainos was just as outrageous.
 
I was focussing on the British Empire because others had focussed on Britain.
 
Rare metals didn't actually add to the wealth of Europe as the Spaniards found to their cost - it basically destroyed their productive economy, importing all that gold and silver and they became an impoverished and ignored corner of the continent after 1800 or thereabouts.
 
But sugar and cotton are different of course - both key to productivity.  Cheap cotton means you can clothe your people more cheaply. Sugar means you can keep them fuelled with calories more cheaply.
 
The productive capacity of Pacific Islanders is of course tiny compared with the Americas, India and Africa.
 
 
 
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2012 at 21:00
One thing that has not been mention and perhaps should be is the role of state militarys.
Fredrick the Great of Prussia was the first to give Engineers power in and over military equipment and he did so with great success. With the funding, training and room to innovate granted by military expenditure this allowed the development of the technologies and most importantly, know-how, that sparked the industrial revolution.
 
The first power tools, for example, were used by and developed in Royal Navy dockyards. Steam was deployed to run the workshops. Time and time again over the last 200 years the military has been the hub of innovation, 18th century Britain was continually fighting for naval supremecy, while providing a safe place behind the lines to innovate and learn. I believe that should not be underestimated.
 
Cheap labour + all expenses paid Engineers + military need = Industrial Revolution in all sectors of the economy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ralfy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 05:25
I'm reminded of this very interesting television program entitled Connections.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 12:08
Originally posted by David Greenwich David Greenwich wrote:

Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

You have forgotten that land robbed to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Pacific also contributed quite a bit to the industrial revolution. From the new world came such sources of wealth like pricy metals, suggar and cotton.


Fully accepted - what Columbus did to the peacable Tainos was just as outrageous.
 
I was focussing on the British Empire because others had focussed on Britain.
 


Well, the British Empire was a predator even bigger than the Spaniards. They invaded lands in the Americas, Australia and even tamed advanced civilizations, such as China and India. Besides, when the British Empire had trouble with the Chinese trade balance, theirs genius invented the opium trade, and commerce was fixed up. Yes, the British Empire was a superstar.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carolgreen270 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 12:17
It sounded like cadswallop to me at the time, but perhaps some of you may be able to prove it was true or not?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 13:19
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by David Greenwich David Greenwich wrote:

Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

You have forgotten that land robbed to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Pacific also contributed quite a bit to the industrial revolution. From the new world came such sources of wealth like pricy metals, suggar and cotton.


Fully accepted - what Columbus did to the peacable Tainos was just as outrageous.
 
I was focussing on the British Empire because others had focussed on Britain.
 


Well, the British Empire was a predator even bigger than the Spaniards. They invaded lands in the Americas, Australia and even tamed advanced civilizations, such as China and India. Besides, when the British Empire had trouble with the Chinese trade balance, theirs genius invented the opium trade, and commerce was fixed up. Yes, the British Empire was a superstar.


Sorry to disappoint you Pinguin - you won't find me defending the British Empire (any more than you will find me defending the Aztec Empire). :)
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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