I did my bit for Irish service exports the other week, organising the 9th conference of the European Historical Economics Society in the fabulous Guinness Storehouse. There were a couple of plenary sessions, one of which was a roundtable on the causes of the Industrial Revolution, featuring Bob Allen, Nick Crafts, Deirdre McCloskey, and Joel Mokyr. There was also a keynote speech by Bob Allen on the causes of wealth and poverty. Karl Deeter very kindly came along and filmed the two events, and you can find the videos here and here. My sincere thanks to Karl.
7 replies on “Industrial Revolution Roundtable and Bob Allen keynote”
@ K O’R,
There is some new book published in the past while about the history of Dublin city. I heard the author on the radio one of the days talking about his book, but I didn’t grab his name or the book title. I am hoping to come across it soon in the book stores, the next time I get a chance. He made one quite truthful comment about the industrial revolution, or the lack of the same as it applies to Dublin city. We never had an industrial revolution here. He related an old Dublin expression, which still bears true today I believe.
A brickie’s labourer could become Lord Mayor of Dublin city, but he could never become a brickie.
This is partly the sort of attitude that holds a city and a society such as that of Dublin back in modern times. The idea that it is one’s inheritance, or not, to receive gainful employment or not. It is not something you achieve. It is something that is awarded to you, by some structure. This attitude is buried deep into the psyche of the native Dubliner. And it neatly mirrors a similar phenomenon in the hinterland, in relation to ownership of farming land, or ancestry in relation to farming land.
I honestly believed that the period of the Celtic Tiger would have shifted society beyond that stage. But the residue is still there. In fact, after the financial collapse, it may be the default position, that we may find ourselves returning to. The point I am making, is a distinction between wealth and status within the community. The industrial revolution was responsible for laying down a substantial layer of ‘new’ wealth in many societies in Europe. In Ireland, we didn’t have that. We mistakenly took credit expansion during the 2000’s for wealth creation. But now that the ‘wealth’ has been exposed as false, we now have to revert to the dimension of ‘status’ in the absence of wealth, to re-create the older sort of social hierarchy, that our parents would have existed within. BOH.
If I may add also. I think it deserves to be explained, why I am pugnacious enough to even I have an understanding about this. Working as an architect in Dublin during the boom years, I enjoyed a very warm and welcoming response from Dublin society. The reason I think, it because Dubliners believed that in my capacity, I was working to create some form of wealth from which they may all benefit. However, in the aftermath of some television broadcasts by Richard Curran, some by David McWilliams or George Lee, I noticed that the attitude of Dubliners towards people such as myself changed radically. It was soon pointed out to folk like myself, that we weren’t helping to generate any form of wealth, and worse, we did not enjoy a status either, in the eyes of the average Dubliner.
It was interesting, as spatial and urban designers in Dublin in the late 2000’s, we were at work developing all kinds of models to deal with sustainability and energy conservation in new development. But we very soon discovered, that our currency could not be spent in the city we had grown up in. The Curran’s, McWilliam’s, Lee’s and other talented broadcasters picked up on a lot of things. But what they did not pick up on was, when society in Dublin city reverts back to the brickie, and the brickie’s labourer means of asserting the hierarchy in society – that very soon, that same society in Dublin – loses whatever ability it had, however briefly, to realize how wealth is created by the application of skills and talents to a variety of problems and challenges, and the subsequent benefit to all. In that sense, I think that our best television broadcasters fell badly short of the mark – and what is more, the Farmleigh conference type of narrative – does little to move things on. It did not move on the conversation at all. BOH.
Just listening to a entertaining but inaccurate debate in my view although the sound quality is a bit iffy.
But in a week where some physicists are claiming that some particles may travel faster then light (although instrumental error is still a big ?)
The breakdown in the transition from theoretical physics to applied scientific applications is the big one post Manhattan project and particullary the abandonment of really big applied science adventures in the late 60s to increase in my view unsustainable consumption relative to real new investment – not consumption that somehow appears on the books as investment.
Anyhow in this Dorks opinion James Watt changed everything – they were shipping coal for heating down to London for many hundreds of years but once coal was used for locomotion / work everything changed.
Maybe people will look back at the botched Castle Bravo thermonuclear test as the first move away from increased energy densities that was the hallmark of the industrial revolution.
With books such as On The Beech and Silent Spring giving the cultural backing to implementing the Club of Romes agenda.
These efforts made Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey into a wonderfully accurate curiosity of a possible but now alas failed and grotesquely stunted future history as by the latter half of the 60s the now absurd but still galloping western culture disappeared into its own anus horizon of myth & pleasure.
The technological singularity died back then for entirely understandable reasons – the power of the atom was just too much for some so the powers in charge decided to shut the project down – we have been huddling around the embers ever since.
Trying to break this to you gently Dork – but your time is nigh!
The Price of Gold in the Year 2160
‘Then, the greatest economic bubble of all time will end. Unless civilization ends, the only thing that might stop the visionaries is political authority—you know, the folks with the printing press. But that does not mean gold will have no value. Quite the contrary, it makes an excellent roofing material.’
Excellent…. great way to share knowledge.
Yes the Precious has completly corrupted me – and this week has been particularly nasty to those with little faith in the golden calf – if it becomes a rust free roofing material perhaps added to copper which gives it strength transforming the precious into that ugly Krugerrand colour it will utterly destroy this Gollum.
But it takes a hell of a lot of energy to get out of earths gravity well , travel to Eros with mining and power plant etc and somewhat less to ship it back.
Even using Nuclear pulse propulsion it would be nasty and not very PC – But myself and Freeman Dyson were thinking about a one way trip………….
Smashing Eros into the Earths upper crust when we release this mortal coil – it will be our present to humanity.
People will be rich in heavy metals but very very dead ( Eros is a upper layer Biomass extinction event but fortunetly for most in a very stable orbit)
@ brian o hanlon
the book you refer to is
a cityu in wartime
by padraig yeates
it covers the period 1914 to 1919