FAREWELL TO ALMS – Gregory Clark

Book can be found here https://amzn.to/2Z4pTRW (this is an Amazon associate link which earns us commission to keep things going) and its summary is below:

Why are some parts of the world so rich and others so poor? Why did the Industrial Revolution–and the unprecedented economic growth that came with it–occur in eighteenth-century England, and not at some other time, or in some other place? Why didn’t industrialization make the whole world rich–and why did it make large parts of the world even poorer? In A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark tackles these profound questions and suggests a new and provocative way in which culture–not exploitation, geography, or resources–explains the wealth, and the poverty, of nations.


# The dead hand of the past still exerts a powerful grip on the economies of the present.
# The typical rate of technological advance before 1800 was well below 0.05 percent per year, about a thirtieth of the modern rate
# Man accumulates property and bequeaths it to his children, so that the children of the rich have an advantage over the poor in the race for success. — Charles Darwin (1871
# Looking just at Europe, the Greeks and Romans also lacked windmills
(first documented in Yorkshire, England, in 1185), buttons for clothing (first found in Germany, 1230s), spinning wheels (France, by 1268), mechanical clocks (England, 1283), spectacles (Italy, 1285), firearms (Spain, 1331), and movable-type printing (Germany, 1453)
Mokyr, 1990, 31–56. p147
# Similarly China between AD 1 and 1400 saw the introduction of porcelain,
matches, woodblock printing, movable-type printing, paper money, and
spinning wheels. Temple, 1986, 75–122.
# There was no equivalent to the modern patent system
before its introduction in Venice some time before 1416.
# Yet this approach exerts its powerful hold over the economics profession
in part because of the limited historical knowledge of most economists. The
caricature many modern economists have of the world before the Industrial
Revolution is a mixture of all the bad movies ever made about early societies:
Vikings pour out of long ships to loot and pillage defenseless peasants and
burn the libraries of monasteries. Mongol hordes thunder out of the steppes
on horseback to sack Chinese cities. Clerical fanatics burn at the stake those who dare to question arcane religious doctrines. Peasants groan under the heel of rapacious lords, whose only activities are feasting and fighting. Aztec priests wielding obsidian knives cut out the hearts of their screaming, writhing victims. In such a world, who has the time, the energy, or the incentive to develop new technology?
# History is full of instances of institutions that were over time subverted and refashioned because they were inefficient. One example is the method of deciding legal cases in medieval England by “wager of battle.” The Norman conquerors of 1066 imported the right of a defendant in legal cases, including property disputes, to prove his case in this way. In this procedure the defendant would duel with the plaintiff in a ritualized combat that could be fought to the death of one of the parties. The practice grew out of the warrior origins of Norman society and their belief that God would intervene to
favor the combatant in the right. From the earliest records, we know that the parties named champions to
fight these duels for them.13 The great religious houses—those with much
land and hence many territorial disputes—even kept champions in training.
Thus in 1287 the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds fought a duel for possession
of two manors. The Abbey’s chronicle records that “The abbot paid a certain
champion called Roger Clerk . . . 20 marks in advance from his own money.
After the duel Roger was to receive 30 marks more from him. The champion
during the whole time of waiting [for the battle] stayed with us, accompanied
by his trainer. . . . On St. Calixtus’s day our enemies were victorious and our
champion slain in judicial combat in London. And so our manors of Semer
and Groton were lost without hope of any recovery.”14
Since the annual wages of a laborer at this time would be less than 3
marks, the champion who was to receive 50 marks if successful was a highly
skilled worker. Unlike Roger Clerk in the example above, the men who
fought for pay generally did not fight to the death, and typically one would
yield before fatal injury. But as early as 1179 a tenant whose possession of land was challenged
could, for a price, apply to the royal courts for a “writ of peace” prohibiting battle and requiring the case be settled by a jury of twelve local knights
# While it took the equivalent of 18 man-hours to transform a pound of
cotton into cloth in the 1760s, by the 1860s this was done in the equivalentof 1.5 man-hours. P247
# Brilliant description of how the early entrepreneurs were treated, how workers destroyed their factories and how patents were never given to them as should have been,
# another brilliant chart USE THIS in order to display who created what innovations ( place their name and the place and year invented next to each one you mention)
# Prior to that innovation books had to be copied
by hand, with copyists on works with just plain text still only able to copy 3,000 words per day. Producing one copy of the Bible at this rate would take 136 man-days. A 250-page book in modern octavo size would take about 37 man-days.
# The Battle of New Orleans, fought on January 8, 1815, between the
British and the Americans, which resulted in a thousand deaths, occurred
because neither commander knew that the Treaty of Ghent had concluded
a peace between the countries on December 24. The British commander, who
then moved on to take Biloxi, heard the news only on February 14.
Information flows were not much faster in 1800 than in the classical
world. The Times of London reported Nelson’s triumph at the Battle of the
Nile on August 1, 1798, only on October 2, 62 days later: the news traveled
at 1.4 miles per hour. Nelson’s victory over the French and his glorious death at Trafalgar, off the Portuguese coast, on October 21, 1805, was first reported in the Times 17 days later: a transmission speed of 2.7 miles per hour. Table 15.3 gives a sampling of how long it took news of events elsewhere in the world in
the nineteenth century to reach the Times of London
In the mid-nineteenth century the introduction of the telegraph in
1844, and particularly the laying of the first undersea telegraph cable between France and England in 1851, changed by a factor of nearly 100 the speed of travel of information
By 1870 India was linked to Britain by a telegraph system, partly over land and partly undersea, which could transmit messages in twenty-four hours.
# The French in the 1660s even went so far as to abduct a group of Swedish iron workers in hopes of having them establish an iron industry p324 13. Cipolla, 1972, 50–51.
# The British Empire was the largest, covering
9 million square miles. The French had nearly 5 million square miles; the
Netherlands, 2 million square miles; and Germany, 1 million square miles.

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