High-Modernity Modernity and its capitalist economic form have, without a shred of a doubt, been the most revolutionary force in human history as Marx wisely diagnosed in the 19th century. Their initial success belittled his warning of the social and ecological price that would have to be paid in the end which is the story of Late-Modernity that I'll tell in my next post.
2.1. Philosophic rationalism, emergence of the scientific method, technological discoveries
Philosophic rationalism and technological discoveries have emerged in tandem starting at the end of the 17th and beginning of the eighteenth century. Early modernity is characterized economically by exchanges of luxuries at the attention of a minority of the population composed by the aristocracy, the Church’s central echelons, and the new rich merchants. In the last phase of Early-Modernity France initiated a public program of manufactures to attract craftspersons from all over Europe. Incentives were offered to master craftsmen willing to come over to France to manage a manufacture. This program rapidly transformed France in the European production center of luxuries at the attention of the European elites. From that time dates French mastery at luxury goods.
High modernity expanded radically the limited demand observed in early modernity. In retrospect, it is apparent that this was a time of mass production for a mass market that was set in motion by the production of cotton socks that rapidly expanded to cotton cloth. Cotton was cheaper than woolen or linen cloth and was abundant in India it was thus having bright prospects for mass consumption. Decision was taken by the government of Britain in tandem with the East-India Company to promote a mercantile policy attaching high import taxes on Indian processed cotton goods while encouraging local processing. Such a mercantile policy soon destroyed the Indian cotton industry leaving it no other alternative but to export its raw cotton and accepting the import of cotton processed goods from Britain. Influenced by the culture of rationalism and technological experimentation that was rampant at the time British entrepreneurs were naturally drawn to devise technical innovations that would bring the cost of spinning and weaving down. A cascade of innovations followed:
1733: the 'flying shuttle' by John Kay that once adopted in the 1760’s outstripped the quantities of yarn that traditional spinning could supply.
1769: the 'water frame' by Richard Arkwright a spinning machine powered by water.
1780: the 'mechanical loom' by Edmund Cartwright would allow one worker to multiply some 15 times the quantity of cloth that he was able to produce with a hand loom.
The increases in productivity that were permitted by the introduction of those new techniques were paralleled by ever more important increases in imports of raw cotton (2).
The spectacular increases in cotton imports tell the story of British industrialization that, let's not forget this, were made possible by a deliberate mercantile policy of the British government, or its right hand in India the East-India Company, to deny the transformation of raw cotton within India. Such mercantile policies not only created a vast new market but also guaranteed a stable supply of cheap raw cotton material. It also decapitated the Indian economy. But this is ignored in polite conversation about industrialization.
The speed of Britain’s economic growth during its early industrialization was very fast indeed and is reminiscent of the speed of China’s economic growth today. “China’s automobile production and sales both more than doubled in January compared with one year ago... Total vehicle production and sales across the country reached 1.61 million and 166 million respectively in January, up 143% and 124% from a year earlier, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said yesterday” (3). Compare this with the present rates of economic growth in advanced economies and you get a photo realistic image of the concept 'maintenance of modernity' that I touched upon in an earlier post while describing the economic reality of advanced industrial countries by the end of High-Modernity or Early Late-Modernity.
The innovations in textile machinery necessitated similar transformations in energy production and heavy industry that later in the 19th century would explode these economic sectors with new demand from the first railroads and steam energy that unleashed the era of cheap fossil fuels. In short the mass consumption of cotton socks have unleashed chain reactions of economic transformations from one industry to another.
Culture followed a same and simultaneous path to that of technical innovations. Reason had become the word of the day and religion its anathema. The philosophers of the 'enlightenment' had discovered the intellectual foundation of their assault on religion and defense of reason in the Greek Classics (or scholastic works about the Greek Classics dating from the Renaissance) but soon they abandoned the Classics to express their total adherence to modernity. Intellectual freedom was their primary concern. Technical innovations, that were bringing huge increases in productivity, started to shake up the traditional production processes. This gave a very strong argument to the philosophers that freedom to think about ways to displace traditions was of paramount importance to modernity.
Newton’s work had given them a sense of confidence in the potentialities of reason. But the thinking of the philosophers was not unidimensional. Many of them were also practicing scientific research or dabbling into technical experimentations. They sensed that, by rejecting the superstitious beliefs imposed by religion and following the rationality contained in the reason of capital that impulsed the technical innovations of their time, they were discovering a path toward a universal method, the scientific method, that would allow them to translate reality into productive propositions. That’s when the traditional belief in religion muted into their 'enlightenment' that rationality was a universal principle allowing to change 'the reality that is there' into something more desirable, something functional that would also generate wealth. “Only a work as sprawling as the twenty-eight-volume Encyclopedia, or classified dictionary of the sciences, arts, trades (1751-1772), edited by Diderot and the mathematician Jean D’Alembert, could encompass the philosophes’ full range of interests. ... It was not to be a mere reference work, but was designed ‘to change the general way of thinking’. Science was naturally one of the Encyclopedia’s central concerns, but technology had an equally prominent place. Diderot felt that artisanal technology was a key to the progress of civilization. ... He sought to establish a greater rapport between the science of scholars and the technological concerns of producers.” (4)
It so happened that, for the philosophers, one belief system came to supersede another belief system. The scientific method would be refined over the decades till it reached its contemporary formulation: the elaboration of theories reproducible and thus verifiable by others. The verifiability is what gives the scientific method its character of universal principle at discovering the functional truth about reality. The principle works. It allows to generate wealth or to be more accurate it allows the capital invested in the application of the scientific method to generate surpluses.
That’s where the rationality of the scientific method lays in finale, for, without invested capital its application would simply not take place. There is indeed a selection by capital (private or public) of what kind of scientific research is financed ultimately. The code of science is money. It is not life! In further posts I'll propose that, in the era of what comes after modernity, the necessity to ensure the survival of humanity will impose a shift from the money paradigm of science to a life paradigm of science that will re-establish the notion of responsibility at the core of human activity.
2.2. The vanishing of the men of knowledge
It has been observed since the down of time that, faced with the unknown, the individuals become anxious and that such anxiety is greatly relieved or eliminated once they start sharing a common narrative about how reality operates with those around them. It has also been observed that the group's cohesion is at its zenith while this sharing is at its strongest. As far as the eye can see down the trail of history the men of knowledge have always been in charge of that kind of narrative which constitutes the group's 'worldview' or its shared perception of reality and their authority went always unquestioned.
The term 'men of knowledge' is a legacy of anthropological studies about pre-agricultural societies. Tribes reserved the creation of knowledge to a 'specialist' who was being offered the satisfaction of his physical needs while being absolved of daily chores in exchange for researching the meaning of reality, healing the sick and divining the future and so on. Anthropologists called those specialists 'men of knowledge'. The term has the merit to be right in that the shaman (his Siberian appellation) was really in charge of the creation of the story about reality that all his fellow tribesmen were sharing and believing in.
After the emergence of agriculture and early-kingdoms religions (Middle-East) and philosophies (Far-East) were mandated by the men of power to glue the minds of citizens around a shared worldview. The men of knowledge were the priests in the Middle-East and the sages, wise-men, in the Far-East. The monks who rediscovered the Greek classics during Early-Modernity helped solidify the values of the new rich merchants under the glaze of re-discovered Greek knowledge.
The passage from the manufacture phase of commercial capitalism to industrial capitalism (end of Early-Modernity to beginning of High-Modernity) sees the rise of philosophic rationalism, science, the mass-market and political demand for representative democracy (one vote per man who has money, then all men and later still all men and women). Sometime and somehow during this transition the role of the men of knowledge fell in disuse.
The merchants and manufacturers of luxury goods lost out the leading role in a maturing Modernity to the manufacturers of mass market goods who happened also to be among the first scientists. The scientific method was not venerating any longer an immutable foundational narrative, on the contrary, it was formalizing a path of repeatability of new hypothesis and the spread of science has thus been relativizing in the minds of its new converts all past certainties as well as all narratives based on knowings not integrated in science. The spread of such a relativization of societal knowledge is a process that started with the positing of rationalism and the scientific method sometime during the end of the 18th century. This process is still at work today and sees even an intensification in the form of rising fundamentalisms. I mean the rise of fundamentalism on the part of some of those who adhere to traditional religious narratives as well as on the part of some of those adhering to rationalism. Fundamentalism is at odds with the relativization of traditional narratives. From the perspective of the traditional narrative it acts like a defense mechanism but from the perspective of fundamentalist rationalists it appears rational to criticize what is being perceived as irrational. But this ignores the historical societal role played by worldviews.
Science is not a worldview. It is a method to affirm or disprove rational hypotheses. As such fundamentalist rationalists fall short to offer a narrative about the working of our whole reality. That failure to satisfy the psychological urge of individuals to appease their anxiety for the unknown constitutes the ultimate failure of science and rationalism in its confrontation with fundamentalist religious belief. Rationalist fundamentalists are forgetting the immemorial reality of societal affairs and cornering themselves societally in a losing proposition. The more societal affairs become difficult to bear for the individuals the more a rationalist fundamentalist positioning will get its defenders isolated while people will flock to religions and other groups for the sake of appeasing their anxiety.
Furthermore the revolution brought about by the scientific method did not reserve a treatment of favor to scientists and intellectuals. Their knowledge was not being regarded as unquestionable any longer as had been the case with the traditional men of knowledge. The necessity to test an hypothesis by their peers kept intellectuals in check. From a rationalist point of view this is perfect because the verification of an hypothesis ensures high levels of trust in a confirmed fact. But this confirmation process, that happens among scientists, takes place in total ignorance of society at large and this eventually leaves room for doubt to arise. A small thing like the leaking by the media of some words from an email can be sowing doubt in the minds which often suffices to derail the normal course of a project. Climate scientists can attest the veracity of such stratagems.
The propagation by the media of scientific hypotheses under the guise of facts results in sowing doubts in peoples' minds and, coupled with the absence of a scientific or rationalist worldview that people could share among themselves, science appears for large segments of society as no more than being one vision among many other. What I just described here explains how scientists and rationalists cornered themselves into being thrown on the level playing field of the market for ideas where they have to compete with all kinds of charlatans for people's eyeballs. That explains also how it is possible today for over 50% of Americans to reject evolution or climate change... the level playing field duh!
The differentiation between traditional men of knowledge and intellectuals is central to our comprehension of how knowledge fell from its pedestal to the floor of the market. Knowledge did not break at the contact with the floor but it surely lost its luster. There is unfortunately not much literature available on this particular subject which is a shame because it was the catalyst of the chaos to come. Science, philosophy and art, ended up being separated each in the corner of their own specialty which explains why Modernity has been so successful in the first place. Science at the service of the reason of capital exploded indeed the production of material goods... thus allowing for a population explosion and the rise of an unconditional belief in the illusion of permanent growth while the environment is finite. In other words modernity fell for an intellectual idiocy!
That separation of science, philosophy and art is what allowed capital to squeezed science in its protectorate. Once capital got to finance scientific development science was successfully being muzzled on a one way track. The result of scientific development had indeed been forced into the generation of returns for capital holders and this happened without even a mention of the fact. Gone was the dream to serve the well-being of humanity. For it goes without saying that ensuring returns for capital holders is another thing altogether than ensuring the well-being of humanity. The delinking of philosophy from science had ensured that no questioning would take place. Philosophers had largely been confined in their silo of abstractions where they lost sight of pragmatism and forgot about what matters for humanity and its societies and the same can be said of artists.
Now, for sure, what I describe here is a general macro-vision. Some individuals were conscious of what was happening indeed. But their critiques most often resided on the margins of society from where they constituted no more than mosquito bites and were combated as such. Marx was among that minority of researchers who understood the mechanics of Western European societies, where Modernity was reaching its high ground, but his followers in their bickering for power positions forgot what Marx's thought was all about:
in the case of the Soviet Union, while entering their society into Modernity, the communists muzzled it under a thick layer of power bureaucracy that finally suffocated it.
in the case of Western 'social democracies' socialist parties collaborated with big capital holders, shaping a class collaboration, that ended with their total surrender to neo-liberalism.
A posteriori we discover that Marx got nevertheless the last word. He seemed conscious indeed that the belief of Marxists was blind-folding them into a power path where, if successful, they would lose track of the substance of critical thinking. Marx was foremost an open-minded thinker and in that sense he sensed that his followers were bound to reify his thinking which would lead them to political adventurism. That's why he repeatedly mentioned and wrote that he was no Marxist like them.
The separation of science, philosophy and art into specialty domains has also been the root cause of the demise of the traditional societal function of art that leaves us now on a trail of 'whatever is art' absurdity (5).
That separation killed knowledge in its traditional sense of societal interpretation of reality meant to be shared by all as the accepted worldview of the time that was considered to maximize societal cohesion which is the ultimate 'must have' in order for societies to possibly reproduce. Instead specialization took over and the grand view of things, the holistic vision, was abandoned as not rational and not scientific any longer. But specialization while being a lot more efficient at managing a narrow field forgot about the links and interactions among the multitude of fields constituting the entirety of the domain of human life. More damaging perhaps was the delinking that this specialization imposed with all there is outside of the domain of human life. This is finally how knowledge in the sense of human wisdom was replaced by 'scientific knowings' and here is the exact moment when the men of knowledge or the holders of wisdom were superseded by the intellectual holders of 'knowings' within a narrow field. George Mobus expresses a similar idea while using the words 'partial knowledge' in his promotion of systemic complexity. He envisages systemic complexity, or the study of interacting systems, as a new layer of knowledge sitting on top of the narrow scientific specialties of today (6). I personally prefer the term knowings for the good reason that it more clearly demarcates the essential difference between limited sectoral scientific knowings and the more globally encompassing views of the wisdom emanating from the knowledge about 'the whole' and its components 'ensembles of systems'.
The substitution of knowledge with rationality and science left us all knowledge orphans or wisdom dumb. But artists were those who bore the brunt of that separation. They had lost their story tellers and so they lost the automatic supply of the content of their works. Artists were now put in charge of the creation of their own content. They had gained freedom from their story suppliers. But being limited to an education focusing on the use of a technique their minds remained largely empty of the absolutely necessary material to possibly devise the substance of the content of their work. A short 2-3 decades of trial and error effervescence at the hands of the avant-garde over the following decades resulted in emptiness, flatness, grotesque and then 'whatever'.
2.3. High modernity and the questioning by artists of the modern paradigm of reality
The 19 th century, in the West, has been the consecration of:
the scientific method to discover functional truths about reality (functionally useful truths that could generate financial surpluses)
the investment of capital in generating such functional truths in order to propose offers on the market at the attention of a demand from society (existing demand or demand to be created from scratch)
Those general principles were not, and still are not, visible to the naked eye. What was visible, and is still visible today, are the changes in daily life provoked by the introduction of always newer offers on the market. What was not visible, and is still not clearly visible today for many, are the consequences such offers are inflicting upon the principle of life. So the people of the nineteenth century, and first and foremost those who are said to be the most sensitive among them, the artists saw their lives change to the rhythm of the introduction of new offers.
Cotton socks became so cheap that everybody, or mostly everybody, could now wear socks. This was a great change indeed but it did not impact the way people perceived reality. The train, the telegraph, electric lightning, electric motors and other offers were another matter altogether. The notion of distances, for example, must have taken a beating. Forever people had traveled on foot or on the back of an ox, a donkey, or a horse. The speed was slow and the eyes had grown accustomed to see things at such speeds. But with the advent of trains the eyes lost their traditional bearings. Things appeared different, more furtive or should we dare say, more impressionistic perhaps? The advent of the telegraph was even more troubling. Words, sentences, messages could now be sent or received at great distances without the need to move. This does not seem impressive in our contemporary eyes but for nineteenth century people this must have been utterly traumatic and world changing.
Think about the impact that the introduction of electricity, electric lights and electric motors must have had. A force coming from nowhere, that the eyes could not see, must have appeared like magic or for the better educated science was creating the magic. But only very few scientists really understood the principles at work behind that magic. For the first time in history a human production was powered by something that was not accessible directly to the eyes. The eyes were failing man so, for visual artists, an explanation of reality had to be found at that causal level that was inaccessible to the eyes.
What the eyes could not see the brain could eventually understand. Science, mathematics, physics attracted artists and so they started to befriend scientists. Picasso was a friend of the mathematician Poincaré and from his understanding, of the scientific discussions he witnessed his friend engaging in, he devised cubism. At first glance an esoteric system to depict reality, tainted in the colors of science. But that system was not withstanding close scrutiny. Picasso has been stuck indeed repeating the same tricks during the rest of his life; 20-25 paintings per year that look similar but totally empty of any sensical content.
The Surrealists, interested in the unconscious befriended the psychoanalysts Freud and Jung and devised automatism. Breton wrote a surrealist manifesto that got some traction with critics and other artists and for some time the movement amplified but it fell prey to what Masson later called the “absurdity of whatever” at the hands of the likes of Dali and Magritte who remain the best known to this very day but are the least interesting among surrealist artists.
Duchamp tried his hands at cubism but found that it was a farce based on a repetitive trick. He then got some success with futurism but he found that it was no more than an impressionism of movement and so he quit that fashion to go flirt with the dadaists. In pure Dada fashion, with the intention to ridicule the critics and the art bureaucracy, he installed a toilet seat in an exhibition in NYC that he called a “Ready-Made” but to his surprise and chagrin the critics in their naiveté jumped on the “Ready-Made” and poured high praise over it. Duchamp felt cornered and soon decided to abandon painting altogether to spend his time playing chess. The 20th century had just lost one of its most creative artists.
In Germany and the East the expressionists depicted what they fell was the harshness and Kafkaesque condition of their societies. Germany was coming out of the first world war punished by France and Britain with un-payable reparations, for its loss of the 1st world war, that dragged its economy into shambles; fertile ground for revanchist nationalism to sprout. Nazism was sticking its head out of the commotion! Soon artists, musicians and intellectuals were suffocating under the cloak of totalitarianism and had to leave the country. Kandinsky is among those who left us thoughts of great interest even to this very day; a message that remains intellectually refreshing (7).
The second world war gave way to a stark differentiation between what was going on in New York City and the rest of the world. In short; taking over the art market in NYC finance imposed its lenses on what kind of artistic productions would make it to the market. Artworks transformed into luxury commodities and to pass the test it was absolutely required that form took precedence over content. In other words content had to be sterilized in order to be acceptable in the eyes of financial speculators who had no clue as to what art was all about. This was a total departure from what art had always been considered to be. Compare this to what Kandinsky says in perhaps the most succinct but most prescient definition ever given: “The irresistible urge to reveal the purely compositional -to unveil the future laws of our great epoch- is the power which forces artists to strive toward one goal in different ways. ...the form is the outer expression of the inner content. Therefore, one should not make a deity of form. ”(8).
Having been spared any damage within its borders during the war and having been financing its war effort and its lending program to the European allied countries through money creation the US was in the rare position of starting the after-war with lots of capital to invest while also attracting as a magnet the biggest European capital holders, speculators, intellectuals and artists. Looking at this period from the distance of time the result in artistic terms of that combination of financial speculation and art leaves no place for doubt. Formalism has indeed been the rule and one has to wait till the eighties for a new cycle to emerge with the re-appropriation of content at the hands of the conceptualists and other postmoderns. But that return to content was more like another extreme separation from what art is all about. Content was now posited as an intellectualist formal exercise totally detached from the real world.
While New York had imposed itself as the world center of finance and art European artists were simply ignored by that market. Seen from the perspective of those at the helm of the art market it was as if nothing happened out of New York. But European artists had been busy doing really serious stuff, on the margins of the art market, that would transform their societies in the years ahead. In their dreams of the future the artists of Cobra and existentialist writers in Paris left no place for life as it had been in the past. The barbarity inflicted on the populations of Europe during the 2nd world war had been so traumatic for all that the idea of a repetition of such a barbarity in the future was simply intolerable. The artists were at the forefront of that battle against barbarity and they insisted that a new societal way had to be found that would guarantee the impossibility of something that atrocious to ever repeat. They successfully shamed European elites into action. What ensued was a process that drove European nations on the uncertain road to incrementally build an economic and political union akin to a United states of Europe. Today's debt crisis of the countries on its Southern flank is such a moment of uncertainty in that incremental build-up. But past experience shows that all advances of the unification dream have been realized under the urgency of a solution in last minute deals. Whatever the outcome of the present-day debt trap it is simply inconceivable to go back to pre-second world war “cat and dog fight” institutional forms and this should be attributed in no small part to the artists of Cobra and the existentialists.
Among the next generation of European artists Hundertwasser stands tall for participating in the generation of a real popular awakening to ecology that today powers the economic machine in the greater Germanic area.
There is no way to miss the artistic differentiation that was carved between Europe and the US after the 2nd world war. The market and capital settled in the US and imposed a kind of artistic sterilization that detached art from anything relating to life and society. Art identified with form shunned the idea of substance and its productions transformed into luxurious commodities for interior decoration at the attention of the speculators while the country was left craving for answers to its problems. Meanwhile Europe followed the path put forth in the creations of its artists and materialized the initiation of their dreams of institutional unification and of an ecological way of life. In my mind history has already passed judgment.
2.4. No valid artistic answers: financialization transforms art into a luxurious commodity.
If intellectuals had understood what had happened to the US art market starting just after the second world war their analysis would have been prophetic of the economic direction the country would engage into along the following decades.
Financialization started indeed in the art market just after the 2nd World War. It was the discovery of making money from a 'money play' on the scale of an entire economic sector. Financiers discovered that the financial control of a whole economic sector (financialization) gave them the latitude to generate unlimited and risk free surpluses. Compared with what they had done till then, direct investments in real productions, financialization appeared as a boon and all their efforts would then concentrate in devising strategies to financialize the whole economy. Such a strategy would be put up for adoption in the seventies when US financial leaders decided that the time had come to multiply the volume of their activities. That's how the ideas of globalization and financialization were put up for sale or more accurately for adoption by the elites of all nations on earth through international associations like the Trilateral Commission.
The world would soon be swept under a campaign falling like an avalanche on an unsuspecting public in all the nations on earth. That campaign addressed the following:
an institutional and legal build-up: WTO with the adoption of thousands of pages of rules written down in total secrecy by the Western industries taking part in that global expansion and more of the same liquidation of national decision making is promised by the TPP and TTIP that are presently being negotiated in utter secrecy... (9)
the financing of a technological boom that would supply the necessary communication tools for an expansion of activities to the whole world and when that boom came to crash its effects were renewed in the real estate boom that ended kind of tragically in 2007...
an ideological campaign promoting the privatization of the commons and loathing any state activity at the exception of power institutions: police, defense and so on. That's when Keynesian economics, social policies of redistribution, health and old age protection policies were put under the ideological hammer of rejection.
The ramming though by the Trilateral Commission of the support by the national elites in all countries on earth for that program.
All along that path of financialization and globalization the art world was further put under pressure to subscribe to the tenets of New York's art market: form over substance or anesthetized luxurious commodities for the interior decoration of speculators and other members of the 1% clique. Those who don't subscribe to their creed are simply ignored by the whole art market bureaucracy: critics, curators,... By chance history does not stop there. __________
1. "125,000 in one million B.C. to 6 billion today. Population reached approximately 4 million by 10000 BC, 50 million by 1000 BC, and 170 million by the year 1. Population then reached 265 million by the year 1000, 425 million by 1500, and 720 million by 1750 before exploding to 1.2 billion by 1850, 1.8 billion by 1900, 2.5 billion by 1950, and 6 billion today. " in Estimates of World GDP, One Million B.C. – Present. by J. Bradford De Long Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley 1998.
2. “In 1760 Britain imported 2.5 million pounds of raw cotton ... in 1787 it imported 22 million pounds ... by 1830 Britain was importing 366 million pounds and cotton textiles had become the single most important industrial product in term of output, capital investment, and number of workers. ... Meanwhile the price of cotton yarn had fallen until it was about one-twentieth of what it had been in the 1770’s.” in “Eighteenth century Europe” by Isser Woloch. Norton Publishing.
3. in China Daily February 10, 2010
4. in “Eighteenth century Europe” by Isser Woloch. Norton Publishing.
5. The separation of science, philosophy and art: this idea was first expressed by Fry Carins in an excellent discussion about art I was following some time ago on a LinkedIn forum. I unfortunately did not bookmark that thread. If someone did keep a link please send it to me so that I can share it with the readers of this post. Thanks.
9. WTO: World Trade Organization. TPP and TTIP: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that covers Pacific Rim economies and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a new trade pact with the European Union. A good analysis of what is going on here is given in "The Next Corporate-Friendly Trade Pact" by Cole Stangler in 'In These Times'.
Video of the week
The emergence of philosophic rationalism, the scientific method and technological discoveries, occurred in parallel. In reality the financial successes of the merchants were swelling observers with envy which resulted in self-imposed pragmatism in their handling of thought and production processes so much so that even philosophers were engaged in tinkering technical processes.
Indian cotton textiles enjoyed wide popularity in Europe and British manufacturers pressed their government to restrict and prohibit the sale of Indian cotton cloth in the country. Mercantile policies followed that discouraged Indian cotton processing while encouraging a process of technological innovations at home that single-handedly unleashed the industrial revolution.
A revolution in the supply of goods ensued and suddenly the market for the masses was surpassing the luxury market for the rich. The offer of goods was now addressed to all citizens who thus needed to be free to chose the offering of their choice but soon they would demand a say in the political decision making process and the formulation of policies securing some decency in their lives. Against their will, but to avoid a political revolution, the members of the establishment let the people get away with democracy. But form was made to take precedence over substance. People got representative democracy instead of direct participation. Political representation gave the advantage to money and knowledge while the people were made to believe they were like children who needed to be represented by adults.
The mass-market, representative democracy and social policies, were accompanied by philosophic rationalism the scientific method and technological innovation. These were the ingredients of a recipe that, we now know, proved to be an explosive societal cocktail resulting in the inexorable rise of individualism and the inexorable loss of societal responsibility. But before the consequences of this dualism could enter the minds, for a time, that cocktail proved to be irresistibly successful. The world population jumped from 1 billion in 1800 to over 7 billion today and world GDP grew even a lot faster from 175.24 in 1800 to 41016.69 Billions, of 1990 International Dollars, in 2000 (1).
"China-Russia_Double_Helix.pdf" by Larchmonter 445 A must read! 25 pages long and with 39 footnotes. A document that I personally consider as absolutely crucial: an in-depth analysis of the China-Russia Strategic Alliance written by somebody who looks at it from the "Chinese side".