Friday, March 4, 2011

industrial revolution

Between 1815 and 1848, there was a movement of conservative, liberal, and national protests becuase the Industrial Revolution changed the population like never before. The increase in jobs and scientific thought brought about a mobile workforce that crowded the cities. Then because wages were lowered and women and children did not need to be paid as much, women and children took the place of working men in many dangerous factories. With the Industrial Revolution coincided an Agricultural revolution because there was a need for food to compensate for the growing populations. Thomas Malthus effectively explained in relation to these issues that population growth would exceed arithmetic food growth and nature would have to interject to stabilize the population. Conservatives and nationalists maintained the population before the biological capacity was exceeded, while Liberals were harmful to the sustainability of Europe in this time when populations were already mass reproducing.
            Conservatives of the Industrial Revolution, such as Metternich on Austria, were sometimes harsh and oppressive, but they were righteous in maintaining their countries’ populations. Metternich had to keep control over Germany and Prussia because if he let either of them raise their own country, then they could become dominant and expansive. There were already shortages of food such as with the Irish potatoe famine and the corn laws in England, because middle class populations were expanding in cities and cottage industries did not supply these workers their own food. If Metternich had given Germany initial independence, then he was risking that Germany would grow without moderation or consideration of the natural environment. Each nationality of people in the time deserved to be independent, but its actions could not be taken too quickly because the environment would calapse without being able to support the growing populations.
            Liberals such as people wanting to reform the Corn Laws of England and increase universal suffrage for men were legitimate in their reasonings, but these fast changes would also contribute to increasing the population. The corn laws were made because England could not manage its food as a result of exceeding population growth. One of Malthus’ biological factors is that shortage of food will kill a population. Liberal men in England, however, wanted to abolish the corn laws to allow for people to get better amounts and distributions of food. They should have understood that food was being produced less quickly than children were being born and mouths were opening to be fed; therefore, the time for change in the food industry of England was needed but it was naturaly impossible without grain substitutes.
            Nationalist such as those wanting to get the Ottoman’s out of Greece and the Germans wanting to rise up against Russia, Austria, and Prussia  Greece was able to get the support of Russia, France, and England during this protest and Greece would eventually get their independence; this, however, tied Greece to Russia and its church. Monitoring Greece’s independence was a conservative way for Russia to hold its own power while watching the power of others. Even though this would have been for political reasons, this nationalism of Greece and nationalism of Russia helps maintain the population growth within these countries. With Germany also, people were rising up with young clubs and national folklores to strengthen Germany to become independent. Austria held Germany down while the populations compensated with the Industrial Revolution fortunately because later Germany would be the main force of WWII where their dominance would become worldwide. If that nationalism had been granted in the mid 1800’s, then European society’s could have easily collapsed with German’s accumulating power.
            Liberalism has its reasons and its goodness, but in the sake of time during the Industrial Revolution, Conservatism was the most practical way of retaining the European population. Whether the conservatives were aware of Malthus’ ideas or not, they proved Malthus’ concepts that population growth grows exponentially while food grows arithmetically. Once a population exceed the food production, without enough machinery to compensate, nature will react to quell the population growth. Conservatives, for the most part, beat nature to this harsh reaction, because if liberal revolutions had taken place, then many jobs would be left and populations would rise up in progression, leaving more mouths starving. 

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... you are arguing that keeping the population down -- even if it meant starving the populace -- was for the ultimate good of Europe?

    That's quite an extreme position. Interesting, in a purely academic study-of-utilitarianism way, but extreme nonetheless.

    One thing on a practical level your theory doesn't deal with is that despite the politics, the real rate of population growth both continued -- in fact two of the major powers in world events today (China and India) demonstrate this. Does their growing dominant position coupled with their advanced growth rate suggest perhaps that things are more complicated than what Malthus suggested?