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We Economic Historians All Mourn That David Landes Has Died

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And yet his work remains. Jeff Weintraub asks a question:

Let's imagine that one wants to give students (or any other set of non-expert readers) a sweeping and illuminating introductory overview on the industrial revolution--what it was about, how & why it marked a major break in human history, why it was a socio-economic and socio-political transformation as well as a purely technological one, along with some consideration of the major controversies about its nature & causes & consequences--that is brief & compact, but also intellectually substantial & theoretically sophisticated, not to mention well written. As far as I can tell, the best available single piece of this sort is still David Landes's 39-page ["Introduction"] to The Unbound Prometheus. At least, I'm not aware of a superior substitute that meets all those criteria…

I am not aware of a superior substitute either. Is anybody?

Here is a taste: the first section of David's introductory chapter:

THE UNBOUND PROMETHEUS: Technological change and industrial development in Western Europe from 1750 to the present

DAVID S. LANDES Professor of History, Harvard University

CHAPTER I: Introduction:

When dealing with ambiguous terms, the first duty of a writer is definition. The words 'industrial revolution'--in small letters--usually refer to that complex of technological innovations which, by substituting machines for human skill and inanimate power for human and animal force, brings about a shift from handicraft to manufacture and, so doing, gives birth to a modern economy. In this sense, the industrial revolution has already transformed a number of countries, though in unequal degree; other societies are in the throes of change; the turn of still others is yet to come.

The words sometimes have another meaning. They are used to denote any rapid significant technological change, and historians have spoken of an 'industrial revolution of the thirteenth century', an 'early industrial revolution', the 'second industrial revolution', an 'industrial revolution in the cotton south'. In this sense, we shall eventually have as many 'revolutions' as there are historically-demarcated sequences of industrial innovation, plus all such sequences as will occur in the future; there are those who say, for example, that we are already in the midst of the third industrial revolution, that of automation, air transport, and atomic power.

Finally, the words, when capitalized, have still another meaning. They denote the first historical instance of the breakthrough from an agrarian, handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture. The industrial Revolution began in England in the eighteenth century, spread therefrom in unequal fashion to the countries of Continental Europe and a few areas overseas, and transformed in the span of scarce two lifetimes the life of Western man, the nature of his society, and his relationship to the other peoples of the world. The Industrial Revolution, as it took place in western Europe, is the subject of this book.

The heart of the Industrial Revolution was an interrelated succession of technological changes. The material advances took place in three areas: (a) there was a substitution of mechanical devices for human skills; (b) inanimate power--in particular, steam--took the place of human and animal strength; (c ) there was a marked improvement in the getting and working of raw materials, especially in what are now known as the metallurgical and chemical industries.

Concomitant with these changes in equipment and process went new forms of industrial organization. The size of the productive unit grew: machines and power both required and made possible the concentration of manufacture, and shop and home workroom gave way to mill and factory. At the same time, the factory was more than just a larger work unit. It was a system of production, resting on a characteristic definition of the functions and responsibilities of the different participants in the productive process. On the one side was the employer, who not only hired the labour and marketed the finished product, but supplied the capital equipment and oversaw its use. On the other side there stood the worker, no longer capable of owning and furnishing the means of production and reduced to the status of a hand (the word is significant and symbolizes well this transformation from producer to pure labourer). Binding theS were the economic relationship--the 'wage nexus'-and the functional one of supervision and discipline.

Discipline, of course, was not entirely new. Certain kinds of work--large construction projects, for example--had always required the direction and coordination of the efforts of many people; and well before the Industrial Revolution there were a number of large workshops or 'manufactories' in which traditional unmechanized labour operated under supervision. Yet discipline under such circumstances was comparatively loose (there is no overseer so demanding as the steady click-clack of the machine); and such as it was, it affected only a small portion of the industrial population.

Factory discipline was another matter. It required and eventually created a new breed of worker, broken to the inexorable demands of the clock. It also held within itself the seeds of further technological advance, for control of labour implies the possibility of the rationalization of labour. From the start, the specialization of productive functions was pushed farther in the factory than it had been in shops and cottages; at the same time, the difficulties of manipulating men and materials within a limited area gave rise to improvements in layout and organization. There is a direct chain of innovation from the efforts to arrange the manufacturing process so that the raw material would move downwards in the plant as it was treated, to the assembly line and transmission belts of today.

In all of this diversity of technological improvement, the unity of the movement is apparent: change begat change. For one thing, many technical improvements were feasible only after advances in associated fields. The steam engine is a classic example of this technological interrelatedness: it was impossible to produce an effective condensing engine until better methods of metal working could turn out accurate cylinders. For another, the gains in productivity and output of a given innovation inevitably exerted pressure on related industrial operations. The demand for coal pushed mines deeper until water seepage became a serious hazard; the answer was the creation of a more efficient pump, the atmospheric steam engine. A cheap supply of coal proved a godsend to the iron industry, which was stifling for lack of fuel. In the meantime, the invention and diffusion of machinery in the textile manufacture and other industries created a new demand for energy, hence for coal and steam engines; and these engines, and the machines themselves, had a voracious appetite for iron, which called for further coal and power. Steam also made possible the factory city, which used unheard-of quantities of iron (hence coal) in its many-storied mills and its water and sewage systems. At the same time, the processing of the flow of manufactured commodities required greet amounts of chemical substances: alkalis, acids, and dyes, many of them consuming mountains of fuel in the making. And all of these products-iron, textiles, chemicals depended on large-scale movements of goods on land and on sea, from the sources of the raw materials into the factories and out again to near and distant markets. The opportunity thus created and the possibilities of the new technology combined to produce the railroad and steamship, which of course added to the demand for iron and fuel while expanding the market for factory products. And so on, in ever-widening circles.

In this sense. the Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in man's history. To that point, the advances of commerce and industry, however gratifying and impressive, had been essentially superficial: more wealth, more goods, prosperous cities, merchant nabobs. The world had seen other periods of industrial prosperity--in medieval Italy and Flanders, for example--and had seen the line of economic advance recede in each case; in the absence of qualitative changes, of improvements in productivity, there could be no guarantee that mere quantitative gains would be consolidated. It was the Industrial Revolution that initiated a cumulative, self-sustaining advance in technology whose f repercussions would be felt in all aspects of economic life.

To be sure, opportunity is not necessarily achievement. Economic progress has been uneven, marked by spurts and recessions, and there is no reason to be complacent about the prospect of an indefinite climb. For one thing, technological advance is not a smooth, balanced process. Each innovation seems to have a life span of its own, comprising periods of tentative youth, vigorous maturity, and declining old age. As its technological possibilities are realized, its marginal yield diminishes and it gives way to newer, more advantageous techniques. By the same token, the diverse branches of production that embody these techniques follow their own logistic curve of growth toward a kind of asymptote.

Thus the climb of those industries that were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution--textiles, iron and steel, heavy chemicals, steam engineering, railway transport--began to slow toward the end of the nineteenth century in the most advanced west European countries, so much so that some observers feared that the whole system was running down. (At this point, the Industrial Revolution in these countries was substantially complete.) Similar dire prognoses accompanied the world depression of the 1930's, particularly by those Marxist critics who saw the capitalist economy as incapable of sustained creativity. In fact, however, the advanced industrial economies have given proof of considerable technological vitality. The declining momentum of the early-modernizing branches in the late nineteenth century was more than compensated by the rise of new industries based on spectacular advances in chemical and electrical science and on a new, mobile source of power--the internal combustion engine. This is the cluster of innovations that is often designated as the second industrial revolution. Similarly, the contraction of the 1930's has been followed by decades of unusual creativity, consisting once again primarily in innovations in the application of chemical and electrical science, plus advances in the generation and delivery of power--the above mentioned third industrial revolution.

A more serious cause of concern lies outside the productive system proper--in the area of political economy and politics tout court. Even assuming that the ingenuity of scientists and engineers will always generate new ideas to relay the old and that they will find ways to overcome such shortages as may develop (whether of food, water, or industrial raw materials), there is no assurance that those men charged with utilizing these ideas will do so intelligently--intelligently, that is, not only in the sense of effective exploitation of their productive possibilities but in the larger sense of effective adaptation to the material and human environment so as to minimize waste, pollution, social friction, and other 'external' costs. Similarly, there is no assurance that noneconomic exogenous factors--above all, man's incompetence in dealing with his fellow-man--will not reduce the whole magnificent structure to dust.

In the meantime, however, the climb has been spectacular. Improvements in productivity of the order of several thousand to one have been achieved in certain sectors--prime movers and spinning for example. In other areas, gains have been less impressive only by comparison: of the order of hundreds to one in weaving, or iron smelting, or shoe- making. Some areas, to be sure, have seen relatively little change: it still takes about as much time to shave a man as it did in the eighteenth century.

Quantitative gains in productivity are, of course, only part of the picture. Modern technology produces not only more, faster; it turns out objects that could not have been produced under any circumstances by the craft methods of yesterday. The best Indian hand spinner could not turn out yarn so fine and regular as that of the mule; all the forges in eighteenth-century Christendom could not have produced steel sheets so large, smooth, and homogeneous as those of a modern strip mill. Most important, modern technology has created things that could scarcely have been conceived in the pre-industrial era: the camera, the motor car, the airplane, the whole array go electronic devices from the radio to the high-speed computer, the nuclear power plant, and so on almost ad infinitum. Indeed, one of the primary stimuli of modern technology is free-ranging imagination; the increasing autonomy of pure science and the accumulation of a pool of untapped knowledge, in combination with the ramifying stoke of established technique, have given ever-wider scope to the inventive vision. finally, to this array of new and better products--introduced, to be sure, at the expense of some of the more artistic results of hand craftsmanship--should be added that great range of roti commodities, once rarities or luxuries, that are now available at reasonable prices thanks to improved transportation. It took the Industrial Revolution to make tea and coffee, the bananas of Central America, and the pineapple of Hawaii everyday foods. The result has been an enormous increase in the output and variety of goods and services, and this alone has changed man's way of life more than anything since the discovery of fire; the Englishman of 1750 was closer in material things to Caesar's legionnaires than to his own great-grandchildren.

These material advances in turn have provoked and promoted a large complex of economic, social, political, and cultural changes, which have reciprocally influenced the rate and course of technological development. There is, first, the transformation we know as industrialization. This is the industrial revolution, in the specifically technological sense, plus its economic consequences, in particular the movement of labour and resources from agriculture to industry. the shift reelects the interaction of enduring characteristics of demand with the changing conditions of supply engendered by the industrial revolution. On the demand side, the nature of human wants is such that rises in income increase the appetite for food less than for manufactures. This is not true of people who have been living on the borderline of subsistence; they use any extra money to eat better. But most Europeans were living above this level on the eve of industrialization; and although they did spend more for food as income went up, their expenditures on manufactures increased even faster. On the supply side, this shift in demand was reinforced by the relatively larger gains in industrial as against agricultural productivity, with a consequent fail in the price of manufactures relative to that of primary products.

Whether this disparity is inherent in the character of the industrial process, in other words, whether manufacture is intrinsically more susceptible of technological improvement than cultivation and husbandry, is an interesting but moot question. The fact remains that in the period of the Industrial Revolution and subsequently, industry moved ahead faster, increased its share of national wealth and product, and drained away the labour of the countryside. The shift varied from one country to another, depending on comparative advantage and institutional resistance. It was most extreme in Britain, where free trade stripped the farmer of protection against overseas competition; by 1912, only 12 per cent of Britain's labour force was employed in agriculture; by 1951, the proportion had fallen to an almost irreducible 5 per cent. And it was slowest in France, a country of small landholders, where a more gradual introduction of the new industrial technology combined with high tariffs on food imports to retard the contraction of the primary sector. Over half the French labour force was in agriculture in 1789 (perhaps 55 per cent or more), and this was still true in 1866, after three quarters of a century of technological change; as recently as 1950, the proportion was still a third.

Industrialization in turn is at the heart of a larger, more complex process often designated as modernization. This is that combination of changes--in the modes of production and government, in the social and institutional order, in the corpus of knowledge and in attitudes and values--that makes it possible for a society to hold its own in the twentieth century; that is, to compete on even terms in the generation of material and cultural wealth, to sustain its independence, and to promote and accommodate to further change. Modernization comprises such developments as urbanization (the concentration of the population in cities that serve as nodes of industrial production, administration, and intellectual and artistic activity); a sharp reduction in both death rates and birth rates from traditional levels (the so-called demographic transition); the establishment of an effective, fairly centralized bureaucratic government; the creation of an educational system capable of training and socializing the children of the society to a level compatible with their capacities and best contemporary knowledge; and of course, the acquisition of the ability and means to use an up-to-date technology.

All of these elements are interdependent, as will become apparent in the discussion that follows, but each is to some degree autonomous and it is quite possible to move ahead in some areas while lagging in others--witness some of the so-called developing or emerging nations of today. The one ingredient of modernization that is just about indispensable is technological maturity and the industrialization that goes with it; others one has the trappings without the substance, the pretence without the reality.

It was Europe's good fortune that technological change and industrialization preceded or accompanied pari passu the other components of modernization, so that on the whole she was spared the material and psychic penalties of unbalanced maturation. The instances of marked discrepancy that come to mind--the effort of Peter to force the westernization of a servile society in Russia, the explosion of population in Ireland in a primitive and poor agricultural environment, the urbanization of Mediterranean Europe in the context of a pre-industrial economy==yielded a harvest of death, misery, and enduring resentment.

Even so, industrial Europe had its own growing pains, which were moderate only by comparison with extreme cases of accelerated modernization or with the deep poverty and suffering of that outer world (the so-called Third World) of technolgically backward, non-industrializing societies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America' For one thing, if mechanization opened new vistas of comfort and prosperity for ill men, it also destroyed the livelihood of some and left others to vegetate in the backwaters of the stream of progress. Change is demonic; it creates, but it also destroys, and the victims of the Industrial Revolution were numbered in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. (On the other hand, many of these would have been even worse off without industrialization.) By the same token, the Industrial Revolution tended, especially in its earlier stages, to widen the gap between rich and poor sharpen the cleavage between employer and employed, thereby opening the door to class conflicts ofu nprecedented bitterness. It did not create the first true industrial proletariat: the blue-nails of medieval Flanders and the Ciompi of the Florence of the quattrocento are earlier examples of landless workers with nothing to sell but their labour. Indeed, as we shall see, the putting-out system was in its day as productive of class hostility as the factory. But the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did see the growth of a working class more numerous and concentrated than ever before. And with size and concentration came slums and class consciousness, workers' parties and radical panaceas.

In similar fashion, the Industrial Revolution generated painful changes in the structure of power. It did not create the first capitalists, but it did produce a business class of unprecedented numbers and strengh. The hegemony of landed wealth, long threatened by the mobile fortunes of commerce but never overturned, yielded to the assaults of the new chimney aristocrats. Largely as the result of a series of revolutions, domestic government policy came to be determined in most of western Europe by the manufacturing interest and its allies in trade and finance, with or without the co-operation of the older landed establishment. In central Europe--Germany and Austria-Hungary--the picture was different: the attempt at revolution failed, and the aristocracy continued to hold the reins of government; business ambitions were subordinated to, rather than identified with, the goals of unity and power. Even there, however, the growing wealth and infuence of the industrial and commercial bourgeoisie was apparent in the course of legislation and in the penetration by parvenus of the social and occupational strongholds of the old elites. In the course of the nineteenth century, much of the privileged knights' land (Rittergüter) of east-Elbian Prussia came into the hands of commoners; while from 1870 to 1913, the proportion of aristocrats in the officer corps of the Prussian army fell from 70 to 30 per cent.

To be sure, this kind of victory often spelled a kind of defeat: the rising bourgeois could be more snobbish than the blooded nobleman, stiffer and more arrogant than aJunker guardsman. Whereas in Britain and France, the new business elite competed for power, in Germany they acquiesced in the starus quo and sold their liberal birthright for a mess of chauvinistic pottage seasoned by commercial legislation and administration favourable to business enterprise. The fact remains that they did have to be bought off; and indeed everywhere the balance of status and power shifted, in greater or lesser degree, from the older landed elite toward the new rich of industry and trade.

Two of the factors conducing in this direction were the separation of the aristocracy from the mass of the country population and the general decline of rural forces in national life. Partly (though only partly) owing to industrialization, the traditional system of land tenure, with its vestiges of feudal privileges and its tenacious communal rights, was replaced by one of unlimited ownership of enclosed parcels. A certain amount of the traditional paternalistic authority of the 'lord of the manor' was lost in the process, especially in those regions where the changed was forced. Even more important, however, was a progressive anaemia of rural life: on the one hand, a massive exodus to the cities at the expense of marginal lands; on the other, an invasion of agricultural areas by industry--how green was my valley!

The growth of a factory proletariat, the rise of the industrial bourgeoisie and its progressive merger with the old elite, the ebbing resistance of the peasantry to the lure of the city and to the competition of new ways and a new scale of cultivation--all of these trends encouraged some observers to predict a polarization of society between a large mass, of exploited wage earners and a small group of exploiting owners of the means of production. The trend to size and concentration seemed inexorable and pervasive. Every advance in technology seemed to hurt the ability of the small, independent operator to survive in the impersonallv competitive market place.

Yet this was a serious misreading of the course of change. Mass production and urbanization stimulated, indeed required, wider facilities for distribution, a larger credit structure, an expansion of the educational system, the assumption of new functions by government. At the same time, the increase in the standard of living due to higher productivity created new wants and made possible new satisfactions, which led to a spectacular flowering of those businesses that cater to human pleasure and leisure: entertainment, travel, hotels, restaurants, and so on. Thus the growth of a factory labour force was matched by a proliferation of service and professional people, white-collar workers, functionaries, engineers, and similar servants of the industrial system and society. Indeed, as productivity rose and the standard of living with it, this administrative and service sector of the economy--what some economists have called the tertiary sector--grew more rapidly than industry itself.

In sum, the Industrial Revolution created a society of greater richness and complexity. Instead of polarizing it into bourgeois minority and an almost all-embracing proletariat, it produced a heterogeneous bourgeoisie whose multitudinous shadings of income, origin, education, and way of life are overridden by a common resistance to inclusion in, or confusion with, the working classes, and by an unquenchable social ambition.

For the essence of the bourgeois is that he is what the sociologists call upwardly mobile; and nothing has ever furnished so many opportunities to rise in the social scale as the Industrial Revolution. Not everyone seized these opportunities. For many, the shift from country to city, from farm to industry or trade, marked simply the exchange of one labouring status for another. The factory worker could be, and usually was, as tradition-bound in his expectations for himself and his children as the peasant. But for thousands,the move--to town, or often to another region or country, marked a decisive break with the past; the migrant found himself afloat in a fluid society. Some rose and founded unexampled fortunes in their own lifetimes; others climbed slowly, generation by generation. For many, education was the open-sesame to higher status, and this channel was in itself evidence of the more explicit functional requirements of a technologically advanced society. More and more, it became important to choose someone for a job or place on universalistic rather than particularistic grounds, on the basis of what he could do rather than who he was or whom he knew.

But universalism cuts both ways. While some rise on merit, others must fall; some succeed, but others fail. It has been said of political revolutions that they devour their children. So do economic revolutions. Thus the small machines of the early Industrial Revolution were succeeded by big ones; the little mills became giant factories; the modest partnerships, were converted to large public companies; the victims and laggards of the early decades were succeeded by new victims and laggards. The resultIng concentration of enterprise in certain sectors of the economy did not displace the small firm or make it obsolete. The very forces that promoted industrial and commercial giantism opened new possibilities for small ventures: service enterprises, distribution agencies, subcontractors, and so on. The fact remains, however, that smaller firms in traditional lines were pressed hard by bigger and more efficient competitors; many collapsed in spite of all the resistance, ingenuity, and sacrifice that old-style family enterprises are capable of. Both casualties and survivors proved easy converts for the preachers of discontent and reaction: in some countries they turned the government into the instrument of vested interests; in others, they became the troops of right-wing revolution.

For if the first effect of the Industrial Revolution was to shift drastically the balance of political power in favour of the commercial and industrial classes, subsequent economic development raised up new enemies of the liberal, parliamentary system that was the symbol and instrument of bourgeois government. On the one hand, there was concentrated, class-conscious industrial labour; on the other, the bourgeois victims of economic and social change: the marginal enrepreneurs, the discontented, the déclassés. Between the two extremes the gulf widened, as each reacted to the other. The World War brought the latent conflict to a head by stimulating the demands of labouf while ravaging the savings of the bourgeoisie. In all countries, the postwar years saw a flow of political power oufward from the centre to the extremes. [n a nation like England, the result was a new parry alignment and gradual movement to a new position of compromise. In iountries like Germany and Italy, the resolution was more radical. In France, the centrifugal trend was countered by the distraction of logrolling; the heterogeneous special interests of the bourgeoisie found a modus vivendi in the manipulation of government on behalf of the status quo and at the expense of a divided labour movement.

In each case, of course, the nature of the political adaptation to the economic changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution was a function of the existing political structure and traditions, social attitudes, the particular effects of the war, and the differential character of economic development. For the Industrial Revolution, as we shall see, was not a uniform wave of change; nor did it roll up on like shores. On the contrary, it came to a great variety of places, with differing resources, economic traditions, social values, entrepreneurial aptitudes, and technological skills.

This unevenness of timing and distribution in turn has had the most serious consequences. Politically it has meant a complete revision of the balance of power. The basis of military strength has shifted from sheer numbers--ind tactical inspiration--to industrial capacity, particularly the ability to turn out guns and munitions and move them to combat. Money was once the sinews of war because it could buy men; now it must produce fire power as well. As a result, the nineteenth century saw a unified Germany rise to Continental hegemony on the strength of the Ruhr and Silesia; while France, slower to industrialize, was never again to enjoy the pre-eminence to which the lévee en masse and the genius of Napoleon had raised her on the eve of economic revolution. With the spread of the new techniques, moreover, new powers arose: the twentieth century saw the millennial predominance of Europe dwindle before the unprecedented might of the United States and Soviet Russia.

At the same time, the technological gap has made possible and economic interest has called forth a spectacular expansion of Western power in the preindustrial areas of the world; in this respect, the In-dustrial Revolution consummated the proce{s begun by the voyages and overseas conquests of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And while in recent decades the tide of imperial dominion has receded, it has left its indelible imprint wherever its waters have rolled: all of the undeveloped countries of the globe are converted to the religions of industry and wealth with a faith that surpasses that of their teachers. Never in the thousands of years of contact Between civilizations has one of them enjoyed such universal success.

Yet up to now, at least, faith has not been enough. The nations of the Third World have yet to effect their industrial revolution, and the gulf in wealth and standard of living between them and the economically advanced countries has increased to the point of scandal and danger. The disparity has been aggravated by the partial character of their modernization. The West has brought them lower death rates, but not lower birth rates; so that population growth has eaten up, and in some instances outstripped, their gains in income. The West has brought them lower death rates, but not lower birth rates; so that population growth has eaten up, and in some cases outstripped, their gains in income. The West has provided them with some education--enough to know their dependence and to dream of freedom, but not enough to create and operate a modern economy. It has given them a distorted underview, the view from the kitchen, the mine, and the labour camp, of the potentialities and rewards of an industrial technology--a tantalizing taste of what seems to be a material paradise; but it has not given them the means to satisfy the appetite thus engendered. It has also left them a memory of brutality and humiliation, a stain that some have argued can be erased only in blood.

This is not to imply that the conduct of colonial powers has always been reprehensible or the consequences of their rule invariably bad. On the contrary, one could argue that many of the colonial peoples were better off under European rule than they have been since independence. But as we all know, the evil that men do lives after them; besides, most of the peoples in the world (with the possible exception of Puerto Rico) have opted for freedom even in mediocrity as against prosperity in subordination.

The explosive implications of this legacy of jealousy, frustration, hatred and alienation need not be laboured here.

In sum, the Industrial Revolution has been like in effect to Eve's tasting of the fruit of the tree of knowledge: the world has never been the same. (There is no point in arguing here whether the change is for the better or the worse. The question is one of ends more than means and has its place in moral philosophy, not economic history.)

And why not put up the rest of the text of the first chapter? Si monumentum requires, circumspect:

So much for the wider historical implications of the Industrial Revolution. For the economic historian qua economist, the problem has another side. His concern is with the processes of industrial change as such: how did they occur? why did they move faster in some places than others? why did thev take different forms in different economies? In short, he is interested in the causes and process of growth.

From this point of view, the Industrial Revolution poses two problems: (1) why did this first breakthrough to a modern industrial system take place in western Europe? and (2) why, within this European experience, did change occur when and where it did?

The essay that follows is concerned with the second of these questions; but it will not be amiss to consider the first by way of introduction.

The first point that needs to be made is that Europe on the eve of the Industrial Revolution was a society that had already advanced a long way economically beyond the level of minimal subsistence. The significance of this advance is apparent from a comparison of such estimates as we can make of income per head in eighteenth-century England, say, and pre-industrial economies of the twentieth century. Phillis Deane, who bases her calculations on the estimates of contemporary observers, tells us that the average for England and Wales at the end of the seventeenth century was about £9 per year; in the 1750's, between £12 and £13. Given the revolution in consumption that has taken place since then, it is hazardous to convert these sums into their twentieth-century equivalents; but on the reasonable assumption that money was worth at least eight times as much 200 and 250 years ago (Miss Dean's multiplier of six is far too low), we are talking of incomes about £70 in 1700, £100 a half-century later. Comparable figures for the France of the eighteenth century have to be inferred from even more precarious 'guesstimates'; but it seems reasonable to suppose that income per head was moderately lower than in Britain at the beginning and that it kept pace fairly well until the last quarter of the century. By comparison, average annual income in Nigeria, one of the richer African countries, was about £30 per head in the early l960's, while that of India was even lower--about £25. To find something comparable to the western European level of two centuries ago, one has to look at the already semi-industrialized countries of Latin America: Brazilian income per capita was some £95 per annum in 1961; Mexican income about £105.

Western Europe, in other words, was already rich before the Industrial Revolution--rich by comparison with other parts of the world of that day and with the pre-industrial world of today. This wealth was the product of centuries of slow accumulation, based in turn on investment, the appropriation of extra-European resources and labour, and substantial technological progress, not only in the production of material goods, but in the organization and financing of their exchange and distribution.

Economic growth in this period of preparation, as it were, was by no means continuous: there was a major setback in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in the aftermath of the Black Death; and certain parts of Europe suffered grievously and long in the following period from the effects of war and pestilence. Nor was the rate of growth at best anything like so rapid as it was to become during and after the Industrial Revolution. (We have no true statistical estimates of pre-modern growth; but one has only to extrapolate the levels of income prevalent on the eve of industrialization backward at the rates of growth prevailing after 1700, and one arrives very quickly at levels of income too low for human survival.) Indeed, there is good reason to believe that much of such economic growth as did take place was translated into population growth: increased income meant lower death rates, in some instances higher birth rates; and larger numbers either ate up the gain or, outstripping it, set the stage for Malthusian disaster. Even so, it seems clear that over the near-millennium from the year 1000 to the eighteenth century, income per head rose appreciably--perhaps tripled--and that this rise accelerated sharply in the eighteenth century, even before the introduction of the new industrial technology. In a sense, this preparation alone is sufficient explanation of the European achievement: Europe industrialized because she was ready to; and she was the first to industrialize because she alone was ready to. But this kind of statement is merely an evasion of the issue; the question still remains, why Europe alone effected this advance.

A definitive answer is impossible. 'We are dealing here with the most complex kind of problem, one that involves numerous factors of variable weights working in changing combinations. This sort of thing is hard to deal with even if one has precise data that lend themselves to refined techniques of analysis. But we have almost no evidence of this kind for the pre-modern period (say, before the eighteenth century), so that any judgment must be based on an impressionistic examination of the record. Such a judgment is necessarily personal: it would be hard, I think, to find two historians who would agree across the board on the 'causes' of the European economic advance. Still, one man's interpretation can serve to guide or sharpen the appreciation of others, if only on an adversary basis. The analysis that follows, therefore, is my own--though it rests heavily on the work of those specialists whose arguments on particular points I have found persuasive. The method of inquiry is to seek out these factors of European development that seem to be both significant and different; that set Europe apart, in other words, from the rest of the world. By holding Europe up against the mirror of the most advanced non-European societies, we should be able to discern some--surely not all--of the critical elements in her economic and technological precedence.

From this point of view two particularities seem to me to be salient: the scope and effectiveness of private enterprise; and the high value placed on the rational manipulation of the human and material environment.

The role of private economic enterprise in the West is perhaps unique: more than any other factor, it made the modern world. It was primarily the rise of trade that dissolved the subsistence economy of the medieval manor and generated the cities and towns that became the political and cultural, as well as economic, nodes of the new society. And it was the new men of commerce, banking, and industry who provided the increment of resources that financed the ambitions of the rulers and states--men who invented the polity of the nation-state. Business, in other words, made kings--figuratively and literally in the case of the Medici, who ruled Florence and whose children sat on the throne of France.

To be sure, kings could, and did, make or break the men of business; but the power of the sovereign was constrained by the requirements of state (money was the sinews of war) and international competition. Capitaliss coold take their wealth and enterprise elsewhere; and even if they could not leave, the capitalists of other realms would not be slow to profit from their discomfiture.

Because of this crucial role as midwife and instrument of power in a context of multiple, competing polities (the contrast is with the all- encompassing empires of the Orient or of the Ancient World), private enterprise in the West possessed a social and political vitality without precedent or counterpart. This varied, needless to say, froT one part of Europe to another, depending on comparative economic advantage, historical experience, and the circumstances of the moment. Some countries were better endowed by nature for industry and trade than others. Some--especially those on the turbulent frontier of European civilization--came to accord inordinate place and prestige to the military and its values. And, sometimes, adventitious events like war or a change of sovereign produced a major alteration in the circumstances of the business classes. On balance, however, the place of private enterprise was secure and improving with time; and this is apparent in the institutional arrangements that governed the getting and spending of wealth.

Take the idea and nature of property. This was often hedged around in the pre-industrial period by restrictions on use and disposition and by complications of title. Land especially was caught up in a thicket of conflicting rights of alienation and usufruct, formal and customary, which were a powerful obstacle to productive exploitation. Over time, however, the nations of western Europe saw an increasing proportion of the national wealth take the form of full property--full in the sense that the various components of ownership were united in the person or persons of.the possessor, who could use the object of ownership and dispose of it as he saw fit.

Concomitant with this development and, indeed, implicit in it was the growing assurance of security in one's property--the indispensable condition of productive investment and the accumulation of wealth. This security had two dimensions: the relationship of the individual owner of property to the ruler; and the relationship of the members of the society to one another. With respect to the first, the ruler abandoned, voluntarily or involuntarily, the right or practice of arbitrary or indefinite disposition of the wealth of his subjects. The issue was joined very early, and its outcome was clearly linked to the larger question of the political as well as economic status of the business classes. Lambert of Hersfeld, an ecclesiastical chronicler of the eleventh century, tells the story of a confrontation on this score between the Archbishop of Cologne and the merchant community. The Archbishop wanred a boat for his friend and guest, the Bishop of Munster, and sent his men to commandeer a suitable vessel. The Archbishop may have been acting within his traditional rights; that is, the residents of Cologne may well have been obliged to furnish such facilities as a corvée. But in this instance, the son of the owner of the boat refused to submit and, calling some friends together, drove off the Archbishop's men-at-arms. The conflict quickly burgeoned into a riot, which the Archbishop finally succeeded in repressing by a show of force and threats of reprisal. Yet this was nor the end of the matter:

the young man, who was filled with anger and drunk with his initial success, did not stop making all the trouble-he could. He went about the town, make speeches to the people about the bad government of the Archbishop, accusing him of imposing unjust charges on the people, of depriving innocent men of their property, and of insulting honorable citizens…. It was not hard for him to arouse the populace…

This was surely not the last such incident at Cologne or elsewhere; but eventually the ruler learned that it was easier and in the long run more profitable to expropriate with indemnification rather than confiscate, to take by law or judicial proceedings rather than by seizure. Above all, he came to rely on regular taxes at stipulated rates rather than on emergency exactions of indefinite amount. The revenue raised by the old method was almost surely less than that yielded by the new; over time, therefore, it constituted a smaller burden on the subject. But the effect of this uncertainty was to encourage concealment of wealth (hence discourage spending and promote hoarding) and to divert investment into those activities that lent themselves to this concealment. This seems to have been a particularly serious handicap to the economies of the great Asian empires and the Muslim states of the Middle East, where fines and extortions were not only a source of quick revenue but a means of social control--a device for curbing the pretensions of nouveaux riches and foreigners and blunting their challenge to the established power structure; and it was the experience of European traders in those countries that gave us from the Arabic the word 'avania' (French auanie; Italian auania), meaning both insult and exaction.

At the same time--this is the second of our two dimensions--Europeans learned to deal with one another in matters of property on the basis of agreement rather than of force; and of contract between nominal equals rather than of personal bonds between superior and inferior. Jerome Blum, in his valuable study of Russian agrarian society, tells of one among many instances of violent seizure of land by the local lord from a nominally-free peasant: the people in the area called the piece in question the 'cudgel field', because the servants of the rich man had beaten the poor farmer in public to exact his consent to the transfer. (In most cases, of course, no beating would have been required; little men knew their place.) Predatory behaviour of this kind was easiest and most persistent in societies divided by wide barriers of power and status. Anywhere east of the Elbe, for example--in Prussia, Poland, Russia--the local lord enjoyed so much authority over the population that abusive treatment even of those residents who were nominally free, let alone the unfree serfs, was widespread and unrestrainable. In these areas of seigneurial autonomy, moreover, conditions actually grew worse from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, as the spread of com- mercial agriculture enhanced the incentive to exploit the weak.

In western Europe, however, the abuse of private power and recourse to violence were rarer and tended to diminish over time. (La Fontaine's raison du plus fort was reserved increasingly to international relations.) Here, too, the trend went back to the Middle Age, when the ambitious rulers of inchoate nation-states succeeded in substituting their writ for that of their vassals; and in developing, as an instrument of royal power, a judicial apparatus operating in a context of established rules. They were helped in this effort by the bourgeoisie (in the strict sense of the citizens of the towns), who needed the protection of the law to flourish and, flourishing, provided the crown with a counterweight to the common feudal enemy.

The shift from diffuse obligations to explicit contract was part of the same development. Medieval society had been held together by loosely defined, open-ended personal bonds between lord and vassal, seigneur and serf, but business could not operate in this realm of indeterminacy and needed a measure for all things. The new law provided the measure, and the new nation-state enforced it.

These political and legal changes combined with economic and social developments to undermine seigneurial authority and enhance the personal status of the peasantry. Without attempting to examine this process in detail, one may point to a few major influences: the Black Death and subsequent epidemics, which altered sharply the ratio of land to labour and compelled the propertied classes to offer substantial inducements to attract and hold the manpower needed to work their estates; the long inflation of the sixteenth century, which found many peasants holding long-term leases whose burden diminished with the value of the currency; above all, the rise refuge, employment, and freedom to the serf who left the land and which thus acted as a constant source of upward pressure on the conditions of rural life. As a result, the opportunities created by a growing market for cash crops conduced not, as in the East, to the aggravation of labour services and a tightening of control, but to the solution of personal bonds and the substitution of free peasant enterprise for managed domains. This in turn laid the basis for what was to prove a crucial element in the rise of industrial capitalism: the spread of commercial manufacture from the town to the countryside. It was this that enabled European industry ro draw on an almost unlimited supply of cheap labour to produce at a price that opened to it the markets of the world.

The rise of rural manufacture was the most striking and significant expression of freedom of enterprise; but one should not infer from the faJt of this rise a state of generalized freedom. On the contrary, the very unevenness of this development--cottage production for market came far earlier in England thin elsewhere--is testimony !o the fierce and successful opposition it encountered from privileged.interests in the towns; and these privileges are only one example of the many fetters on trade and industry. Thus essential commodities like food were subject to formal and customary restrictions designed to insure the nourishment and tranquillity of the population. Land, as noted above, was sui generis: because of its tie to social status and power, rights of purchase and alienation were often severely limited. Entrance into numerous occupations was subject to official authorization or to the permission of guilds that had every incentive to minimize competition by excluding newcomers. By the same token, the authorities often tried to confine business activity to fixed channels, to prohibit as unfair a wide range of what we would consider-perfectly permissible behaviour, to discourage innovation that might harm vested interests. Much of this reflected the values of the medieval village or town community, which saw wealth as more or less fixed and assumed that the only way one got rich was at the expense of one's neighbour. Yet these constraints made little sense in a context of increasing wealth and rising productivity.

For all that, the scope of private economic activity was far larger in western Europe than in other parts of the world and grew as the economy itself grew and opened new areas of enterprise untrammelled bv rule or custom. The trend was self-reinforcing: those economies grew fastest that were freest. This is not to imply that state enterprise or control is intrinsically inferior to private enterprise; simply that, given the state of knowledge in pre-industrial Europe, the private sector was in a better position to judge economic opportunity and allocate resources efficiently. Even more important, perhaps, was the impulse given thereby to innovation: in an age when the nature and direction of technological opportunity were far less obvious than now, the multiplication of points of creativity was a great advantage. The more persons who sought new and better ways of doing things, the greater the likelihood of finding them. Again the process was self-reinforcing: those economies that were freest seem to have been most creative; creativity promoted growth; and growth provided opportunities for further innovation, intended or accidental.

Why the rest of the world failed to develop a business class of comparable vitality and influence is still more a matter for speculation than analysis. The explanations offered by the specialists are not fully persuasive; often they take the form of bald assertions of cause-and-effect without specification of the intervening mechanism of change. Thus Prof. Wu Ta-k'un tells us that the establishment in China of a state monopoly of salt and metals (Han dynasty, zo6 B.C. to A.D 220) 'effectively checked the development of a mercantile class separate from the land-owning interest'. Perhaps; though one is more impressed by his reference to the congruency of the administrative and landowning elites and the assimilation of successful merchants into this group. 'For this reason,'he writes, 'the development of merchant capital led, not to the formation of a capitalist class,but to the continuous reinforcement of the landowning ruling class'.

These and similar explanations are the ones usually offered for the abortion of economic development in non-European societies. Sometimes the historian stresses the subordination of trade and traders to an all-powerful central authority; sometimes the social inferiority and disabilities of the merchant class; sometimes the precarious character of private property and the heavy burden of arbitrary exactions; sometimes all of these. None of these was wholly absent in Europe; but the usual argument is that the differences in degree were so great as to be differences in kind. Where, for example, in Europe does one find anything comparable to the Egyptian principle that all wealth is the property of the ruler, lent by him to his subjects and taxable or confiscable at will?

In any event, it was surely one of Europe's greet advantages that its first capitalist entrepreneurs worked and flourished in autonomous city-states, hence political units where the influence of landed wealth was necessarily limited; and that even in the larger embryonic nation-states, the special juridical status of the urban commune made it possible for its inhabitants to develop and sustain their own distinct political interest, while it isolated them culturally and socially from the great agrarian world around them. In this way the cities were not only foci of economic activity but schools of political and social association--incubators of the bourgeoisie as a self-conscious, assertive interest Group. They were also crucibles for the refinement of values that, although profoundly rooted in European culture, were still deviant and limited to a minority--values ultimately subversive of the feudal order.

This brings us to what I suggested was the second of Europe's salient peculiarities: the high value placed on the rational manipulation of the environment. This in turn may be decomposed into two elements: rationality, and what we-may cali the Faustian sense of mastery over man and nature. (Such decomposition does violence to the historical reality, for the two are intertwined; but it is useful for purposes of analysis.)

Rationalify may be defined as the adaptation of means to ends. It is the antithesis of superstition and magic. For this history, the relevant ends are the production and acquisition of material wealth. It goes without saying that these are not man's highest ends; and that rationality is not confined to the economic sphere. But whatever the area of activity, the means-end criterion holds; besides, there is good reason to believe that rationality is a homogeneous character trait, that is, that he who is rational in one area is more likely to be rational in others.

The story of rationality as value and way ofli{e has yet to be written, although a number of social scientists, notably Max Weber, have expatiated on its siqnificance for the course of Western development. It shows up earliest"perhaps in the sphere of religion, where one finds a strong tendency in the Jewish tradition to eliminate magic and superstition as a senseless degradation of faith. To be sure, this catharsis was never complete, and the rise of Christianity introduced a new emphasis on the insiinctual and emotional aspects of faith and action. Yet the rational tradition remained powerful and found expression in the invention of a calculus of salvation and in the elaboration of codes and techniques for the management of the material possessions of the Church.

To what extent the Church was motivated here by internal values and to what extent by the values of secular society is hard to say. Clearly the place of magic and superstition in Christian worship has always varied markedly from one part of Europe to another; and indeed much of the Church's effectiveness at proselytization has stemmed from its readiness to find compromises between an austere orthodoxy and the ways of indigenous paganism. Yet there is good reason to believe that already in the Middle Ages, Europe was freer of superstition and more rational in behaviour than other parts of the world.

How does one know this? We have no measures. But there is one indicator that may be a valid surrogate, and that is population control. European birth rates before industrialization were well below the biological maximum--significantly lower, for example, than the rates of today's pre-industrial societies before and even after the introduction of programmes of family planning. Moreover, in so far as there were variations in birth rates-and they range from 55 to 6o per thousand in colonial America and French Canada to 15 per thousand in Iceland at the beginning of the eighteenth century--they seem to have been closely related to the ratio of resources to population. This is evidence presumably of self-restraint--an effort to restrict commitments to means--and as such is an excellent example of rationality in a particularly crucial and sensitive area of life.

It is against this background that one can best appreciate the significance of the so-called Protestant ethic for the development of European capitalism. The reference, of course, is to the work of Max Weber, who first advanced the hypothesis that the rise of Protestantism, particularly in its Calvinist version, was a major factor (not the only factor) in the creation of a modern industrial economy in western Europe. Weber was not the first to observe a link between Protestant belief and economic advance; already in the seventeenth century, observers were struck by the apparent congruency of the Reformed faith and business success. But' Weber offered a new and coherent explanation for the link in terms, not of the content of protestant doctrine, but of the pattern of behaviour inculcated by Protestantism on its adherents.

Hence the emphasis on ethics, that is, a set of values governing every-day conduct. In brief, Weber argued that the Calvinist doctrine of pre-destination instilled in its believers a deep anxiety about their salvation that could be appeased only by leading the kind of life that those destined for salvation might be expected to lead; and that this life was one of in-the-world asceticism (as opposed to the monastic asceticism of the Catholic Church)--a life in which one's time and energies were devoted exclusively to those worthy activities (prayer and work) that conduced to the glory of God. Such a standard, argued 'Weber, was obviously also conducive to the accumulation of wealth: the good Calvinist was diligent, thrifty, honest, austere. Moreover this way of life, originally rooted in religious doctrine, came to have a force of its own: it became important to live this way, not because it provided assurance of probable salvation, but because this was the right way to live. [n short, the means had become end. So,that even after the first surge of Protestant zeal had subsided, the ethic remained; and such new Protestant sects as made their appearance in subsequent centuries--Pietism, Quakerism, Baptism, Methodism--incorporated these stan- dards of behaviour in their moral codes.

Few historical arguments have aroused so much controversy as the so-called Weber thesis; there is a library on the subject, and the debate still rages. Most of the objections follow one or more of three lines: (1) It was not Protestantism that promoted capitalism, but the reverse: pushful, hard-working, successful businessmen sought moral sanction for their way of life and their gains and found it in Protestantism. (2) The superior performance of certain Protestant business communities may be explained, not by their religion, but by their status as persecuted minorities. Deprived of the opportunity to enter established universities or pursue respected careers in the liberal professions or state service, they turned to business, where they worked harder and better than their competitors, the more so as their cohesion and mutual sup- port gave them an advantage over outsiders. (3) There is no empirical link between Protestantism and business success.

The last of these may be dismissed out of hand; it has been advanced by some reputable scholars, but it is simply erroneous, as any examination of the British, French, or German record makes clear. The other two objections are more serious, though they are not necessarily incompatible with the Weber thesis. It is quite reasonable to argue, for example, that the Protestant ethic constituted religious sanction for an already established pattern of behaviour and still attribute considerable influence to it as a support for and propagator of this pattern in the face of competitive value systems. And by the same token, positive religious or ethical standards may well have reinforced the negative stimulus to performance provided by minority status.

Still, this is much too complex and embroiled a question to resolve here. What is important for this analysis is the significance of the Calvinist ethic, whatever its source, as an extreme example of the application of rationality to life. The insistence on the value of time, the condemnation and abhorrence of pleasure and diversion--all those censorious prohibitions and internalized inhibitions that we denounce as puritanism with a small-p--were more than a new version of the appetite for wealth. They constituted in effect an imposition of the criterion of efficiency on every activity, whether or not directly connected with getting and spending.

The complement of this spirit of rationality was what we may call the Faustian ethic, the sense of mastery over nature and things. The one reinforced the other: mastery entailed an adaptation of means to ends; and attention to means and ends was the precondition of mastery. The theme is an old one in western culture, going back to the myths of Daedalus and Prometheus, or even to the story of the Tower of Babel and of Eve, the serpent, and the tree of knowledge (knowledge is mastery). The ancients were dreadfully afraid of this emulation oF the gods, and not coincidentally the protagonists in each case were punished for their hubris. For similar reasons, the Christian Church, itself heir to both the Judaic and Greek traditions, repeatedly condemned as heresy those doctrines--Pelagian and pseudo-Pelagian--that magnified man's natural ability and, explicitly or implicitly, denied his dependence on God for grace and the church for salvation. There remains a strong current in popular Christianity that condemns certain acts of technological prowess as assaults on the divine order: if God had intended man to fly, he'd have given him wings.

On the other hand, the very reiteration of this theme is evidence of the persistence of the aspiration towards mastery of the environment; and indeed some would argue that the Church itself contributed unwittingly to the heresy by its sanctification of work and its opposition to animism. so long as every tree had its dryad and every fountain or stream its naiad, man was intimidated and inhibited in his confrontation with nature. But when, writes Lynn white, 'saint replaced animistic sprite as the most frequent and intimate object of popular religious concern, our race's earthly monopoly on "spirit" was confirmed, and man was liberated to exploit nature as he wished. The cult of saints smashed animism and provided the cornerstone for the naturalistic (but not necessarily irreligious) view of the world which is essential to a highly developed technology.

Be that as it may, it is clear that the urge to mastery grew with time and fed on success, for every achievement was justification for the pretension; while the moral force of the Church's opposition waned with its temporal power and its own growing insecurity in the face of a triumphant materialism. Even more important, perhaps, was the scientific revolution of the early modern period, which not only upset specific articles of religious faith but implicitly discredited all traditional wisdom and authority. Science indeed was the perfect bridge between rationality and mastery: it was the application of reason to the understanding of natural and, with time, human phenomena; and it made possible a more effective response to or manipulation of the natural and human environment.

More than that: it was precisely the applicability of scientific knowledge to the environment that was the test of its validity. The mode of perception and thought that we know as science was not, and is not, the only such mode. Certain Asian societies in particular have devoted considerable effort to the exploration of a world that lies outside or beyond the material universe accessible to ordinary sensory cognition. This other world may lie within or without the observer, who Enters it usually with the assistance of drugs or through the medium of a deliberately induced trance-like state. Sometimes the claim is made that this is a higher form of consciousness; sometimes, merely that this other world is another, rich realm of a larger universe of experience. In either case, the assumption is that this, too, is real.

Western societies have also had their exploration of other realms, with or without drugs--their religious ecstasies, magical rites, super- stitions, fairy ales, daydreams. But Western societies, and more particularly their intellectual and scientific leadership, established very early the boundary line between fantasy and reality, drawing careful distinctions between spiritual and material, between the realm of emotion and imagination on the one hand and that of observation and reason on the other. The shibboleth has been the communicability of experience: something is real if it can and will be perceived and described, perhaps even measured, by any person with the requisite faculties and instruments in the same terms. In other words, what you see, I see.

This communicability of experience is the basis of scientific and technological advance, because it makes possible the transmission and cumulation of knowledge. The stuff of a dream is evanescent; the perceptions of a 'religious experience' are highly personal. These transcendental impressions may leave a legacy of emotions, attitudes, values. What they do not yield is cognitive building blocks. By carefully distinguishing between these two forms of knowledge, Western culture saved itself from material impotence, at the cost perhaps of a certain psychic impoverishment. (I say 'perhaps' because those who have not enjoyed transcendental experiences must take those who have at their word.)

The same point can be made about the highly complex and abstract reasoning of certain 'primitive' societies--reasoning that anthropologists are currently much concerned with and that they find to be different from, but not necessarily inferior to, the rationalism of science. This ethnological literature is curiously defensive: by stressing the profundity and intimacy of these other systems of thought, by minimizing the differences, for example, between science and magic, the savant seeks to elevate the 'savage' to intellectual as well as spiritual and moral parity with the 'civilised'. The cause is a worthy one. The anthropologist here has assumed the mantle of the priest who preaches humility by depreciating the works of man; and the humility of the twentieth century is relativism.

Yet although modesty is good for the soul, it is not always true. The difference between science and magic is the difference between rational and irrational; that is, the one makes possible effective action and the other does not, except adventitiously. 'It may be objected,' writes Levi-Strauss, 'that science_of this kind [that is, primitive thought] can scarcely be of much practical effect. The answer to this is that its main purpose is not a practical one. It meets intellectual requirements rather than or instead of satisfying needs'. The answer is valid on the level of humanistic appreciation; it is irrelevant on the level of performance.

And it was primarily performance that was the criterion of the interest and validity of scientific inquiry in these first crucial centuries of intellectual exploration (as opposed to the medieval mastication of traditional wisdom). The performance in question was the production of wealth--hence the alchemist's obsession with the conversion of base substances into gold; the achievement of eternal youth; or the enhancement of power--hence the preoccupation with the laws of motion and trajectory (needed for effective use of artillery), the principles of hydraulics (of interest to builders of ports and canals), the chemistry of explosives (useful in the production of armaments), and similar problems.

As the reader will have noted, some of the above goals were in fact unattainable; much of this early science was still tinged with magic. Even so brilliant a scientist as Isaac Newton, the heir of a century of intellectual revolution, was credulous on this score. In his famous letter of 1669 (he was then only 26), to Francis Aston, advising that young man how to make the most ofhis travels, he suggests that Aston inquire whether 'in Hungary

they change Iron into Copper by dissoliing it into a Vitriolate water which they find in cavitys of rocks in the mines & then melting the slymy solution in a strong fire…

Yet it would be a mistake to equate this credulity with superstition. Rather, this kind of alchemy represented in effect a transitional stage between magic and science, between the irrational and the rational, in the sense that the change sought was to be accomplished by a real agent, and not by patently immaterial incantations. Newton did not know enough chemistry to realize that the kind of mutation he envisaged was impossible. But he and his contemporaries knew enough about the nature of reality and were sufficiently pragmatic to insist on results; so that when all the alchemical ingenuity in the world failed to turn up the philosophers' stone or the elixir of life, they abandoned the search and turned their knowledge and skills to the rational accomplishment of feasible ends. And so alchemy became chemistry.

The significance of Newton's letter, however, lies not in its instance of cultural lag, but in its theme, which is one of pervasive curiosity. Don't waste a moment, it says; come back with all the knowledge you can acquire. And Newton actually offers his friend a set of rules that will enable him to maximize the intellectual return to travel--among others:

let your discours bee more in Qaerys & doubtings yn Peremp- tory assertions or disputings, it being ye designe of Travellers to learne not teach…

The Europeans of the Middle Ages, and even more their children, were inveterate learners--above all, in technology.To be sure, the history of cultural diffusion in the pre-modern period is obscure; the specialists in the field rely heavily on discrete ambiguous iconographic materials and treacherous philological evidence. Even so, it seems clear that Europe imported from the East over a period of centuries a whole array of valuable and sometimes fundamental techniques: the stirrup, the wheelbarrow, the crank (to convert reciprocal to rotary motion), gunpowder, the compass, paper and, very likely, printing. Many of these came originally from China, which enjoyed at various times during the T'ang (618-907) and Sung (q60- 1269) dynasties the most advanced technology and economic organization in the world.

This readiness and even eagerness to learn from others, including other Europeans--industrial espionage is a theme running all through modern European history--was testimony to an already thriving indigenous technology; good innovators make good imitators. It was also a great advantage fof the nascent capitalist economy, the more so as other societies were less enterprising in this regard. The Chinese, for example, were wont to look at the rest of the world as a barbarian waste-land, with nothing to offer but tribute; and even the obvious lead of Western technology in the modern period was insufficient to disabuse them of this crippling self-sufficiency. On the contrary, their contacts with Europeans in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries only confirmed their belief in their own superiority and enhanced the xenophobic component: the foreigners were dangerous animals--lewd, greedy, ignorant; and the chinese who dealt with them always ran the risk ofb eing denounced, or worse, as a traitor. So that where the Japanese responded with alacrity and success to the technological and-political challenge of the West, the Chinese vacillated betweei disdainful rejection and reluchnt, constrained imitation and fell between the two stools.

In the Muslim world, it was religious rather than national or ethnic pride that posed an obstacle to the importation of knowledge from out- side. From the start, Islamic culture was at best anxiously tolerant of scientific or philosophical speculation--partly because it might divert the attention of the faithful from their obligatory concern with God, his revelation, and the prophetic tradition; p"itty because profane thought might shake belief. Certain fields of inquiry were legitimate because they obviously contributed to the well-being of the community: medicine, a modicum of mathematics and astronomy (needed to determine the religious-calendar), geography (needed for administration), and the theory of administration itself. This is the way von Grunbaum sees the problem:

But anything that goes beyond these manifest (and religiously justifiable) needs can, and in fact ought to, be dispensed withe No matter how important the contribution Muslim scholars were able to make to the natural sciences, and no matter how great the interest with which, at certain periods, the leading classes and the government itself followed and supported their researches, those sciences (and their technological application) had no root in the fundamental needs and aspirations of their civilization. Those accomplishments of Islamic mathematical and medical science which continue to compel our admiration were developed in areas and in periods where the elites were willing to go beyond and possibly against the basic strains of orthodox thought and feeling. For the sciences never did shed the suspicion of bordering on the impious which, to the strict, would be near-identical with the religiously uncalled-for. This is why the pursuit of the natural sciences as that of philosophy tended to become located in relatively small and esoteric circles and why but few of their representatives would escape occasional uneasiness with regard to the moral implications of their endeavors--a mood which not infrequently did result in some kind of an apology for their work. It is not so much the constant struggle which their representatives found themselves involved in against the apprehensive skepticism of the orthodox which in the end smothered the progress of their work; rather it was the fact, which became more and more obvious, that their researches had nothing to give to their community which this community could accept as an essential enrichment of their lives. When in the later Middle Ages scientific endeavor in certain fields very nearly died down, the loss did indeed impoverish Muslim civilization as we view its total unfolding and measure its contribution against that of its companion civilizations, but it did not affect the livability of the correct life and thus did not impoverish or frustrate the objectives of the community's existence as traditionally experienced.

As von Grunebaum's analysis makes clear, the effect of this suspicion and hostility was to isolate the scientific community, place its representatives in an apologetically defensive posture, and render difficult, if not impossible, the kind of triumphant cumulative advance that was to occur in the West some hundreds of years later. Even so, the achievements of Muslim science were substantial, and it was through Arabic translations that the classics of Greek science were transmitted to late medieval Europe. In those days, Europe was the backward country, and Islam, the advanced exporter of knowledge. What caused Muslim science to vegetate just at the time when Western science was reawakening? And why did knowledge not flow the other way once the balance of achievement had shifted?

The answer seems to be that the latent anti-intellectual values of the culture triumphed, in large part owing to the same kind of physical disaster that had overwhelmed the Roman Empire and set European science back almost a thousand years. For Islam too, it was a series of invaders-the Banu-Hilal in North Africa; the Crusaders in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt; above all, the waves of nomads from the Asian steppe, culminating in the terrifying Mongol hordes of the thirteenth century--that brought the classical civilization down. The political fabric was rent; the urban centres were sacked; the indispensable capital base of the society, the irrigation works, left in ruins. The Dark Ago that followed saw a revival of know-nothing mysticism and a reversion to uncompromising religious fundamentalism. Islam turned in on i*elf and found its own kind of peace in spiritual self-sufiiciency: 'The Muslim's world is at rest, and he is at rest within it, and what strikes us as decadence, is to him repose in the bosom of eternal truth'.

The obscurantist influence of Islam was the stronger for two considerations that distinguished sharply East and West. The first was the all-pervasive role of the Muslim religion, which reigned sovereign even in those spheres that had long been reserved in the West to secular authorities. The dichotomy between Caesar and God was never established in Islam, perhaps because the Muslim people (the 'umma) and their world were a creation of the faith, whereas Christianity had had to make a place for itself in the powerful Roman state. There was, in other words, no legitimate source of sanction and authority in Islam outside the teachings of the Prophet and the lessons derived therefrom.

Secondly, the unity of Islam in the matter of intellectual inquiry worked against the success of deviant patterns of thought or behaviour. Not that Islam did not have its schisms and heresies. Almost from the start the faith was split into Sunnite and Shi'ite camps, and these in turn generated their own subdivisions. These sectarian movements, however, almost invariably embodied deviations to the 'right', in the direction of mysticism, devotionalism, more rigorous observance. Throughout the doctrinal spectrum, therefore, there prevailed a spiritual orthodoxy at best unfavourable, at worst hostile to scientific endeavour.

The pragmatic creativity of European science, like the vitality of the, European business community, was linked to the separation of spiritual and temporal and to the fragmentation of power within each of these realms. Thanks to the Protestant revolt, there could be no peremptory orthodoxy in Europe like the Shari'a of Islam. Not that Protestants could not be as dogmatic as Catholics. But they were sectarians, and what is more, sectarians in a world that had not known serious religious division. There had been, to be sure, conflicts over the papal succession; but these were political rather than religious. There had also been eccentric heresies like that of the Cathars; but these had been confined in space and time and had not inflicted lasting damage on the Catholic edifice. The Reformation, on the other hand, effected the first significant rupture of Western Christianity since the suppression of the Arian heresy almost a thousand years before. The very existence of unsubmissive and unsuppressable Protestant sects was implicit justification for disobedience and schism.

Even more important, perhaps' was the content of the protest: the stress on personal faith and the primacy of conscience carried with it the seeds of unlimited dissent. These seeds did not always flower: witness the authority that Luther accorded the temporal power; or the conservative bias of English Methodism. Still, the principle was there, potent even in quiescence; and it came to serve as cover not only for religious nonconformity but for secular speculation. It was not hard to make the jump from one sphere to the other: if people were to let their conscience be their guide in matters of faith, why not let their intelligence be their guide in matters of knowledge? The result was far greater opportunity for scientific inquiry. In addition, more positive stimuli may well have played a role: a generation ago Robert Merton argued in a seminal monograph on Science, Technology, and Society in Seventeenth Century England that it was the ethical content of early Protestantism that accounted for the disproportionate achievement of Dissenter scientists; and this argument has been extended by inference to explain the larger shift of the intellectual centre of gravity from Italy to northern Europe. Yet surely the other side of the coin is equally important, namely, the stultifying effect of the counter-Reformition on freedom of thought and investigation in Catholic lands.

By the same token, European science and technology derived considerable advantage from the fact that the continent was divided into nation-states rather than united under the rule of an ecumenical empire. Fragmentation, as we have seen, entailed competition, specifically competition among equals. In this contest, science was an asset of states not only because it furnished new tools and.improved techniques of war, but because it contributed directly and indirectly to the general prosperity, and prosperity contributed to power. This was true not only of natural science, but also of what has since come to be known as social science: one of the principal incentives to the analysis of social action was the pursuit of Power.

Hence mercantilism. the state acted, controlling and manipulating the economy for its own advantage, and theory hastened to follow. (In this respect too, mercantilist thought and natural science had much in common: throughout this period and indeed well into the nineteenth century, theoretical science was in large measure devoted to understanding the achievements of technology.) The theory in turn provided man with new tools for mastery o his environment. Admittedly, mercantilist doctrine was shapeless, inconsistent. It was inconsistent because it reflected policy as much as guided it, and each state did with its economy what circumstances warranted, knowledge (or ignorance) suggested, and means permitted. Mercantilism was, in short, pragmatism gilded by principle.

Yet mercantilism was more than mere rationalization. Precisely because it was pragmatic, because it aimed at results, it contained the seeds of the sciences of human behaviour. Its principles were modelled on those propounded for the natural sciences: the careful accumulation of data, the use of inductive reasoning, the pursuit of the economical explanation, the effort to find a surrogate for the replicated experiment by the use of explicit international comparisons. Moreover, in this early modern period it was quite common for the natural scientist to interest himself in this realm of social behaviour. In the above-quoted letter from Newton to Aston, the first suggestions Newton makes are the following:

  1. to observe ye policys wealth & state affaires of nations so far as a solitary Traveller may conveniently doe.
  2. Their impositions upon all sorts of People Trades or commoditys yt are remarkeable.
  3. Their Laws & Customes how far they differ fro ours.
  4. Their Trades & Arts wherin they excell or come short of us in England.

The preceding discussion is not intended to imply that mercantilism was uniformly promotive of European economic development; or even that it was so on balance. On the contrary, we know that it was often misdirected (just as certain efforts in the domain ofn atural science and technology were misdirected), and we shall have to consider later the effects of this misdirection on the timing and character of industrialization within Europe. Our point here is simply that mercantilism was the expression in the sphere of political economy0-a particularly striking expression--of the rationality principle and the Faustian spirit of mastery. This is why it could generate a continuing flow of knowledge and outgrow the political circumstances that gave it birth. Because it was built on the same cognitive basis as natural science, because it accepted the criterion of performance, it was the initial stimulus to the collection of economic and social statistics and the forerunner of the whole range of economic theory, from laissez-faire to socialism.

All of this gave Europe a tremendous advantage in the invention and adoption of new technology. The will to mastery, the rational approach to problems that we call the scientific method, the competition for wealth and power--together these broke down the resistance of inherited ways and made of change a positive good. Nothing--not pride, nor honour, nor authority, nor credulity--could stand in the face of these new values. Not pride nor honour: the important thing, Newton wrote Aston, is 'to learne not teach'. Do not be umbrageous, he warns. If you find yourself insulted, let it pass; no one will know about it in England. Lack of forbearance, even under provocation, may pass among friends; among strangers, it 'only argue[s] a Travellers weaknesse'. Nor authority: Descartes' first principle of method 'was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice'. Nor credulity: Newton's fourth rule of reasoning stated that once one has induced the truth from empirical evidence, one should stick by it and not imagine or accept contrary hypotheses until there is hard evidence to support them.

These, it seems to me, are the crucial values of that European culture and societies that gave birth to the modern industrial world: rationality in means and activist, as against quietist, ends. But these alone will not account for the entire discrepancy between 'Western economic development and that of the leading centres of civilization elsewhere. There was also the element of differential violence--violence, first, in the sense of destructive incursions; and second, in the sense of dominion and exploitation of one society by another. Western Europe had known more than its share of the first in the late Roman Empire and Middle Ages; indeed the central institutions of medieval society--the personal subordination, the striving for self-sufficiency, the decentralization of authority--were all primarily responses to physical danger and insecure communications. But from the eleventh century on, the pressure of invasion diminished: the Norsemen settled in their new homes and became domesticated; the Hungarians did the same; the Saracens withdrew and confined them- selves to desultory raids. Instead, Europe began thrusting outward--into Slavic lands to the east and Muslim countries in the Levant and to the southe From this time on, it expanded almost without interruption or setback; and with the exception of eastern Europe, which suffered periodically from the incursions of nomads from the Eurasian steppe and lost the Balkan peninsula to the Ottoman Turk, the continent was spared the death and ruin of outside aggression. To be sure, Europe was not free of war: one thinks of the intermittent Hundred Years' War between England and France; the civil and religious conflicts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; worst of all, the disastrous Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) that laid waste large areas of central Europe by fire, the sword, and disease, to the point where some districts lost five-sixths of their population by death and flight and took a century to recover. But now the only enemy that Europeans had to fear was other Europeans; and as the conflicting ambitions of the different nation states worked themselves out in the form of a more stable balance of power, the virulence of the fighting diminished, particularly in that north-western corner of Europe that had taken the lead in economic development.

Other areas were perhaps less fortunate. Certainly the Muslim world suffered blows far heavier than those inflicted on western Europe: the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century were followed in the the fourteenth by the conquests of Timur, who ranged from Anatolia in the West to India in the East and marked his victories with minarets and pyramids of skulls--a monument to his power and a warning to the survivors. Timur in turn was followed by lesser Turkoman warlords, some of whom fought their way briefly onto the stage of history and then disappeared, while others established dynasties of varying durability in the successor states of the once-mighty Mongol Empire. As a result of this dissolution, the Muslim world found a new though far from stable equilibrium in a division between Persian and Mogul East and Turkish-Arabic West. For more than two hundred years, from the early sixteenth century on, the Ottomans and the Safavid Persians waged intermittent war, addressing themselves the while to occasional bouts with other adversaries: nomads from the steppe, Russians spreading southward and eastward, the Afghan tribes and the Mogul emperors to the east, the nations of Christian Europe in the Danube valley and the Mediterranean. The land was forever criss-crossed with armies; siege followed siege, massacre followed massacre. Even the ghastliest carnages of the Thirty Years' War--the sack of Magdeburg for example--pale alongside the bloodbaths of Delhi. The record of shifting dynasties, palace plots, reigns of terror, and mad rulers reads like an oriental version of the Merovingian snakepit.

Meanwhile the growing technological superiority of the West enabled the European nations to impose their dominion on the most distant lands, sometimes on the basis of formal annexation and colonization of territory, sometimes by means of an informal commercial tie with weaker peoples. The story of this overseas expansion is too well known to require review here; but it is of interest to us to inquire what contribution imperialism made to the economic development of Europe on the one hand and the retardation of the rest of the world on the other.

The answer is not easy to come by. For one thing, the issue is much vexed by political commitment and coloured by intellectual bias. Those who are indignant or angry at the wrongs inflicted by the West on the colonial peoples of the world--the nationals of those countries in particular--are inclined to impute the whole'Western achievement to exploitation: the Industrial Revolution, say some Indian historians, was accomplished on the backs of the Indian peasant. Marxist historians offer similar judgments, which serve among other things to increase the burden of sin to be laid at the door of capitalism. The effect--and sometimes the aim--is to legitimize such reprisals as the Third World roday may be able to wreak on its former masters: in the light of the historical record, vengeance is ostensibly nothing more than retribution. On the other side, those who reject the indictment in whole or in part (and it is not easy on this issue to preserve the nuances), or who give their support to capitalism as against other economic systems, are prone to deprecate the advantages of the colonial relationship to the dominant power and the disadvantages to the dominated. The effort here is to deny or minimize the debt; and since the nature and extent of the obligation of the rich nations to the poor is one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues of international relations, the verdict of history is in this case of more than academic interest.

Under the circumstances, it seems clear that we have here the kind of problem on which consensus is impossible. History is not an exact science (many would say that it is not a science at all), and even if we had all the data desirable, there would be disagreement on their interpretation. But we do not have all the data, so that all that one can do in a rapid analysis of this kind is review what seem to be the relevant considerations and see where they lead.

To begin with, one must distinguish between two kinds of return to colonial domination. (Our context here is the so=called Old Imperialism of the 16th to 18th centuries.) The first is the quick, spectacular reward of conquest: the seizure as booty of the accumulated wealth of the conquered society. This was of little moment in most colonial areas, for these were generally poor by European standards. The only significant exceptions--and these, momentous--were the American Indian empires of Mexico and Peru and the Mogul Empire of India. The former yielded at the outset enormous treasures of gold and silver bullion; and then for a century and more supplied a large flow of precious metal from mines; so that much of the subsequent exploration of the New World was motivated by the vain hope of finding other El Dorados. The Indian tribute was smaller; but the adoption into English of such words as nabob and Golconda is testimony to the riches that the more enterprising and less scrupulous Europeans found there.

The significance of this booty for European economic development has long been a subject of controversy. Precious metals and jewels are not productive capital; neither are,they edible. But in the right hands, they can be used to command and combine the factors of production for useful purposes. In the right hands… The silver of America did little for Spain, which re-exported most of it to pay for military operations in other parts of Europe and for imports of food and manufactures from 'less fortunate' countries. Indeed one might reasonably argue that the colonial windfall did Spain serious harm by encouraging her to rely on tribute rather than work. In similar fashion, the wealth of the nabob returning home from India to England was more likely to go into land and office than into trade, for experience in colonial exaction is poor training for risk-taking ventures in a competitive market.

On the other hand, the Spanish re-export of bullion and the land purchases of nabobs were transfer payments: the wealth did find its way into other hands and constituted a net addition to Europe's and England's money supplies. This in turn presumably eased credit, increased demand, and stimulated industry--in those places that were in a position to respond to this opportunity. Admittedly this was a one-time stimulus that lost force when the inflow of precious metals diminished; plunder, silver mining, and quick monopoly profits are not a solid basis for development at home or abroad. Yet while the inflationary expansion lasted, it promoted abiding changes in the structure of the European economy: new scope for commercial enterprise, greater specialization in agriculture and manufacture, larger concentrations of capital, an increased scale of production in certain branches.

More durable and more stimulating to European economic development was the systematic exploitation of colonial territories through settlement. Practice varied considerably. In some areas (notably Spanish America), the native was impressed into service; in others (the West Indies and the southern colonies of British North America), he proved unwilling or unable to do the work required, and the colonists killed him or drove him off and brought in biack slaves from Africa to take his place. Farther north, the settlers did their own work, establishing in the New World societies that were in many respects replicas of what they had known at home. In some places the Europeans constituted a thin surface layer over a far larger mass of Indians and Negroes; in others they were the whole or a substantial part of the population. Whatever the social structure, however, the significance of these colonies for European economic development is that they produced an ever-larger volume of goods for export, primarily food and raw materials, and took in return a growing stream of European manufactures. This was not a once-for-all gain. It constituted an enduring increment to the pressure of demand on European industry and thus contributed, as we shall see, to the Industrial Revolution.

To say that colonial possessions contributed to the enrichment and development of certain European countries, however, is one thing; to say that they were a necessary or a sufficient condition of this development, is quite another. The necessary argument implies that if there hid been no overseas expansion, there would have been no Industrial Revolution. It is hard to prove or disprove this kind of contrafactual hypothesis. But it is worth observing that a similar argument about the indispensability of imperialism to the sustenance o{ the European economies In a more advanced stage of development has been put to the test and been found wanting--even in the cases of those countries, Belgium and Holland, most dependent on colonial profits.

The sufficiency thesis is more complicated, yet may be somewhat easier to deal with. It asserts that once Europe achieved superior power, it could despoil and exploit the outside world at will, and the rest--enrichment and industrial development--followed as a matter of course. By implication, the argument imputes enormous rewards to dominion, and assumes that the possession of superior power necessarily entails the rational and effective use of that power for personal or national advantage. Yet the historian must not take anything for granted in this regard--not even the fact of empire, for the overseas expansion of Europe was itself made possible by previous political and technological advances and was not a windfall. Similarly, the shift from plunder to exploitation was not implicit in European dominion. The world, after all, had known (and still knew and would know) other conquering peoples, some of whom had held sway over richer lands than the forests of North America or the semitropical isles of the Caribbean. Yet aside from cases of outright annexation-cum-assimilation, none of these had succeeded in converting their conquests into an enduring source of wealth; rather they had always chosen to seize the quick returns--to loot, take slaves, exact tribute. The decision of certain European powers, therefore, to establish 'plantations', that is to treat their colonies as continuous enterprises was, whatever one may think of its morality, a momentous innovation.

Given the innovation, however, the question then arises of the returns to what Hobsbawm calls the 'new colonialism'. What, after all, constitutes a 'sufficiency' of gain for purposes of industrial revolution?

We shall have occasion to examine this problem in detail later on, when we compare the contributions of home market and export market to the demand for British manufactures. Suffice it here to say that while the large and growing home market might conceivably have been enough to elicit and sustain a revolution in the mode of production, the export trade (of which the colonial trade formed only a part) could not by itself have done so.

There remains one last point: the effect of European expansion on the colonial areas. Here the record of the early modern period is one of almost unrelieved oppression and brutalization of-the indigenous populations. The enormity of the crime is a matter of historical research and debate: Did the Indian population of central Mexico fall from 11 million to 2 million in the first century of Spanish rule? Was the number of slaves shipped from Africa in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (lo my nothing of later years) 2 million, 3 million, or 5 million? How many died in African wars or captivity before they could be put in the holds of a slave ship? We shall never have precise data on these points. But the effect of European dominion are indisputable: the destruction, eviction, or emasculation of the indigenous civilization.

To say this, however, is not to say that these societies would have effected a significant technological transformation of their own economies had it not been for European colonialism. In spite of current efforts to enhance the achievements of the African and American peoples before the coming of the European, it is clear that none of them was ever in the running for world economic leadership. The only serious contenders, going back to the Middle Ages, were China, India, and the Islamic world. The first was not significantly affected by European imperialism before the late eighteenth century, and by that time, the contest was over. The Muslim world suffered earlier wounds: the Spanish Reconquista, the Crusades, the endemic piracy of the Mediterranean (which cut both ways). But the sources of the economic backwardness of the Muslim world must be sought, as we have seen, in the cultural and political history of the Islamic heartland--Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia; and here the effect of European expansion was not the decisive consideration. The same was true of India. Whatever nefarious deeds one may ascribe to imperialism, one can hardly argue that the states of the subcontinent were on their way to an industrial revolution before the Europeans interrupted.

In all instances, indeed, the failure of the colonial society to stand up to European aggression was in itself testimony to severe internal weakness. Karl Marx saw it very well in the case of India:

A country not only divided between Mohammedan and Hindoo, but between tribe and tribe, between caste and caste; a society whose framework was based on a sort of equilibrium, resulting from a general repulsion and constitutional exclusiveness between all its members. Such a country and such a society, were they not the predestined prey of conquest? If we knew nothing of the past history of Hindostan, would there not be the one great and incontestable fact, that even at this moment India is held in English thralldom by an Indian army maintained at the cost of India? India, then, could not escape the fate of being conquered, and the whole of her past history, if it be anything, is the history of the successive conquests she has undergone.

From the side of the victim, therefore, as well as from the side of the conqueror, one cannot take the fact of domination cum exploitation for granted. The case of Japan is there to show that an alert and self-disciplined society, though backward in technology and armament, could stand up to European pressure--first by self-imposed isolation and then, when that became impossible, by meeting and marching the Westerner on his own ground of industrialization.

So much for the priority of Europe's industrial revolution. We may now turn to our central concern: why some countries in Europe accomplished this transformation earlier than others; also how the pattern of develoPment differed from one nation to another and why. These are important matters, for they throw light on the general problem of growth and, by implication, mutatis mutandis, on the character and difficulties of contemporary industrialization. For this purpose, indeed, western Europe offers an ideal subject of analysis. It offers the possibility of comparing a good many of what would seem to be the relevant variables: we have in Europe large countries and small, rich countries and poor, all forms of government, a rich mosaic of social traditions and organization, a great variety of political experience. Europe also presents for analysis the fundamental contrast between self-generated change-=Britain--and emulative response. In sum, if history is the laboratory of the social sciences, the economic evolution of Europe should provide the data for some rewarding experiments.

And a pdf including the notes