Podcasts

The Industrial Revolutions

The new podcast charts the changes to society wrought by mechanization, mass production, and scientific advancement.

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The Industrial Revolution gets a bad rap in popular histories, which generally portray it as a time of worker exploitation and environmental degradation. The nightmare only came to an end, we're told, thanks to state interventions pushed by high-minded, far-sighted reformers.

Adding a more balanced understanding to this bleak picture is the Industrial Revolutions podcast from David Broker, who charts the changes to society wrought by mechanization, mass production, and scientific advancement. The story Broker tells is wide-ranging, with episodes covering everything from railroads to romantic literature.

We learn that factory employment was dangerous, but also that it offered an escape from the exploitative guild systems of old. Cities in the 19th century, while foul by modern standards, were still magnets to immigrants attracted by the promise of higher urban wages and quality of life.

Saintly reformers of the era, be they bureaucrats or enlightened industrialists, were addressing real problems, yes. Yet Broker does a good job of showing just how invasive and paternalistic many of their schemes were. If you're interested in how human beings went from a bunch of poor farmers to a species that has enough leisure time to produce and consume podcasts, this is the show for you.

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22 responses to “The Industrial Revolutions

  1. Capitalism + industry improved the lives of billions. Biden is working hard to undo some of this.

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  2. Especially interesting since we seem to be on a societal cusp where we could achieve a post-scarcity economy, but it would require new paradigms.

    And we seem to be on a trajectory toward being petty, partisan, unimaginative, dishonest with ourselves, and entrenched in old paradigms.

    1. What the hell is a "post scarcity" economy?

      Hunter gatherers were closer to post-scarcity than now, if all you count is food and the weather cooperated and you didn't worry about the tribe over the hill who thought you were picking their berries.

      We are closer to post-scarcity now if you throw in socialist redistribution and cancel all future progress and doom society to anti-progress.

      What a meaningless phrase! "Post-scarcity" my individualist ass!

      1. Ideally, it would mean nobody starving, lacking housing, or health care, or any of the other basics of life. Kinda like Star Trek, I suppose, but, hopefully, not so militaristic.

        Progressives and liberals as socialism or UBI (which was an idea that came from Milton Friedman, by the way, as a lesser evil compared to welfare), but that's what I mean by thinking in old paradigms.

        Maybe it means the basics of life being so cheap that they are easily afforded by working less, or just being related to someone who works, or receiving money voluntarily given by others. Again, this is all vulnerable to old paradigms mucking up the possibility of cheap but good living.

        1. Oops. Dropped the word, "envision": "Progressives and liberals envision it as socialism or UBI..."

        2. In other words, it is meaningless drivel intended to confuse the masses.

          There is always scarcity for everything desirable. The only things not scarce are things nobody wants.

          1. Not so anymore. There are lots of cheap and plentiful things in the modern world: food, clothes, etc.

      2. Post-scarcity” my individualist ass!

        Post-scarcity economy should be obviously recognized as a wish for 'invisible pink unicorns'. It's akin to 'social justice' which isn't really justice. Economists have had a term for 'post-scarcity' for centuries, it's called a surplus. Being in a surplus doesn't change the fundamentals of economics any more than justice changes if you apply it to 1,000,000 people rather than 1 or a unicorn cease to have one horn becaue it is pink or invisible.

    2. we could achieve a post-scarcity economy

      I don't think you know what the word 'economy' means.

      1. I don't think you understand hyperbolic sarcasm, and I know you didn't read the rest of it:

        We are closer to post-scarcity now if you throw in socialist redistribution and cancel all future progress and doom society to anti-progress.

    3. Post-scarcity, as long as you don't buy too many Christmas presents.

      1. I suppose in a post-scarcity world, any store-bought present wouldn't mean much, so only handmade presents would have "meaning". It's already like that for a lot of people -- their family buy them presents that are all: (a) things they already have; (b) they could have bought for themselves; (c) they don't even want. Often, on the same credit card.

  3. The Industrial Revolution gets a bad rap in popular histories, which generally portray it as a time of worker exploitation and environmental degradation.

    This truth really annoys me. The very fact that all those sweatshops and factories continually attracted new workers is proof enough that their working conditions were perceived as better than life on a farm. The obvious mistake detractors make is to compare factory conditions then with office working conditions now, see how much worse off people were, and blame it on the visible factory conditions while ignoring the invisible farm life, which they envision as some idyllic Hollywood movie, scattering a little chicken feed, milking a cow or two, and maybe riding the range to straighten a fence post.

    1. Yes, life sucked in a lot of ways _before_ the Industrial Revolution, and it didn’t magically become perfect when the Industrial Revolution came along.

      In England, at least, it wasn’t farming vs. factories, it was weaving on the loom in your cottage vs. operating a steam-powered loom in a factory. The other aspect of that, besides new ways for the working class to work, was the new availability of affordable cloth and clothing to the working class.

      1. Your substitution is false. There were far more farmers than urbanites. Those people weaving in their cottage WERE farmers.

        What, you think framers only scattered feed to chickens and hoed gardens? That anyone weaving on a home loom was not a farmer?

        1. Often a farmer's wife or daughter. But also often a woodsman's or blacksmith's or whatever's wife or daughter.

  4. Nowadays, we can observe countless technologies and inventions changing the market, business, and production. Nevertheless, there are still areas for improvement in Industry 4.0 processes such as knowledge management, service, and maintenance. For example, many manufacturers use AR solutions to meet industrial challenges.

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