The blog is called Transition as I believe this is the best way to describe our times. I see our times as in between. The world of our parents is ending but the new one does not exist yet.
To use a historical analogy, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible if it was not preceded and overlapped by the Agricultural Revolution.
The Agricultural Revolution (16th to 19th centuries) in Europe was the invention and implementation of farming techniques and machinery that stabilized and then increased the food supply. The improved productivity also meant less people were required to work in agriculture. With a relatively steady and abundant food supply, the population increased significantly. The extra population had many impacts including:
- Colonists – The New World would experience an influx of settlers from Europe. This in turn increased trade particularly raw materials and more food products. The raw materials supplied the ever growing factories. Colonies also changed the dynamics of politics as the kingdoms of Europe became Empires.
- Non agrarian economy – The extra people found work in non-agrarian trades. The new laborers allowed for the expansion of assembly line production and other techniques in the new factories.
- Urbanization – For most of the history of the world, the majority of people lived in rural areas, close to the food they needed to produce to survive. It was now possible for cities to support large populations working in the new factories. The social and cultural bonds of the village faded and were replaced with a new collective identity known as nationalism.
- Scientific Advancement – How many scientific geniuses were working in a field rather than a laboratory because, well, you have to eat. Not only could more people participate in experimentation and innovation, there were huge financial awards for breakthroughs. This accelerated research and development.
In short, without the extra people and stable food supply made possible by the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution could not have happened. The Agricultural Revolution fundamentally changed Europe, and subsequently the world. It created the conditions that allowed the development of the national-industrial social constructs that dominated the 19th and 20th centuries.
We are living in a rough equivalent of the Agricultural Revolution. Information technology, globalization of economies, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, new collective identities, among other factors are destabilizing the national-industrial societies that dominated the last two centuries. Much like the Agricultural Revolution brought agrarian Europe to an end, our current times will bring an end to the national-industrial age.
I do not know what will come next. But it is fascinating to watch the transition.