How It All Began: Origins of the Modern Economy

How It All Began: Origins of the Modern Economy

How It All Began: Origins of the Modern Economy

How It All Began: Origins of the Modern Economy

Excerpt

This book is a preliminary chapter to a larger work that burst its bounds.

I am engaged in an effort to set down the story of how the world economy has evolved over the past two centuries and, interacting with it, how the various nations of the world have moved through the stages of economic growth. As we enter an era when the common economic task will be to reconcile the imperatives of balance between man and his physical environment with the determination of the latecomers to achieve affluence, it seemed to me a good time to put the remarkable tale of what has happened since the late eighteenth century into coherent perspective, and then to peer ahead at the problems we shall all confront in the times ahead. I have for long taught economic history in these terms, but had never tried to put this way of looking at things between covers.

But it was first necessary to account for where the world economy stood at the end of the eighteenth century and how it got to the point where the British could break through the technological barriers that had constrained man and his civilizations for all of prior recorded history. As I addressed myself to a first chapter on how it all began, I found that no wholly satisfactory answer to the question existed either in my own mind or in the distinguished literature bearing on the theme. I concluded this was the case because that literature is fragmented in three distinct . . .

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