Industrial Revolution.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Christian Campbell

- economic society and the market economy (that is, the use of the market to organise production and consumption) are quite new -> it takes roughly 600 years (13th to 19th centuries, i think!) to shift from feudal economy to market economy, culminating in the industrial revolution -> looking at world gdp, theres basically no change in capita per country for 1500 years and then - boom - with the start of the industrial revolution, we have a rapid, sudden onset of economic change - Heilbroner identifies three methods of organising economies -> a) the traditional economy (with trade guilds meant to ensure fair distribution, prevent monopolies i think), b) the command economy (central planning, with bureaucratic decision-makers [a la the soviet union, for instance] responsible for the scope and direction of production and distribution), not too flexible, on decision and its ramifications could hold for five years, say; c) the market economy -> formerly, as in the feudal system, there had been no separate economic sphere, with social and political (even familial) relations determining economic organisation -> the feudal system (emblematic of traditional and command economies) needed to be undermined in order for a market economy to ever be viable -> it was one of rigid hierarchy, relationships based on social obligation, with serfs attached permanently to manors led by lords (who themselves owed protection, housing, food to the serfs underneath them) -> feudal system was marked by subsistence culture, there was no way to support or even to transport surplus (and there was no market for it) -> there was no point in using money to make more money or to develop agriculture or technology, only spent on luxury items (supplied by trade routes) -> lords did not invest in production because there was a limit even to how much they could use themselves - highlighting the difference between a feudal and a market economy, clarifying the need to undermine the former to ensure the success of the latter -> a) labour is not a commodity (i.e. serfs could not move, could not transfer their labour, did not receive wages in return for their labour); b) nor is land a commodity (land was not often thought of outside of its social context, it was not sold, it was inherited, not a source of wealth, not amassed); c) property is not a commodity (wealth is spent on goods that provide zero productive value, investment is a non-issue, luxury is the sum total) -> of course there is nothing inevitable about the rise of the market system, but its rise did prove entirely dependent on the fall of this precursor -> theres no specific drive toward the market economy, theres a series of processes/forces that just so happen to begin to undermine and transform the feudal system - the breakdown of the feudal system in britain is largely a result of the enclosure movement -> before the 18th century, agriculture had been much the same across the board, use of the open field systemwas widespread -> the manors were engaged in subsistence farming at fairly low levels of productivity, content to sustain populations, and manors also included tracts of land that were owned by the lord but also used by serfs (in collecting edible plants, grazing their animals, etc.), connected, common land used by the all the people in a given village, crucial to their livelihood -> enclosurerefers mainly to the privatisation of land that was formerly common (the commons), the use by lords of the land for productive use -> so, the commodification of land, the transformation of land from a birthright (an area of social reproduction) to a productive unit -> enclosureswere legalised through a series of government acts (such as the general enclosure act of 1801) -> the serfs of course are rebelling against this, making this transformation a long process, one that can only develop in pockets round britain, tradition actually persists -> its only when the government steps in and publicises the aforementioned act that things move along a little -> before, it was a matter of the strength of a rebellion, ensuing negotiations -> now, with the publication of this act, lords can draw in the power of the law -> ***the reason this is significant is that it demonstrates government intervention for the purpose of producing a market, undermining the common story of a market supposedly being generated spontaneously as a result of individuals being driven to barter and trade -> artificial! -> there are other instances of government intervention in order to generate the conditions that make a market economy possible - the impetus for this push toward productivity (on the part of the lords) is the increasing mechanisation of agriculture -> inventions such as the seed drill, the threshing machine, the rothernam plough, the steam-driven engine -> new seeds are also invented, via combination, increased resistance to certain adverse environments (like blight or drought or whatever) -> another important innovation is four-field crop rotation -> seemingly simple, instead of letting one field lie fallow every year, crops are switched around as different crops take different nutrients out of the soil -> clover especially proves helpful (not sure why? feeds nutrients into the soil or something?), allowing for greater - so the industrial revolution in britain is driven largely by the privatisation of land, this move toward enclosures is the most important catalyst -> but why? -> first, serfs are forced off of land, thus transformed into labo
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