Changes in English Agriculture

When I think of Britain and the industrial revolution, I think of the beginning of technology. Technological advancements that would pave the way to a world we could have never imagined. After reading this article written by E. R. Chamberlin, The Awakening Giant: Britain in the Industrial Revolution (London:B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1976), pp. 40-44, I am left questioning a number of different themes and ideologies that surely changed the course of human history forever. Chamberlin sheds light on the progression of agriculture in the 18th century. Chamberlin talks about how “common man land” that was equally obtained, is redistributed through democratic power. The reader of this article can decide for themselves whether governing methods of this time were fair, ethical, or smart. All we really know, is that these methods yielded more food for society, which lead to massive increases in technological advancements. We see that food & agriculture serve as the fuel of life for human society, economy, and technology. Technology knows no limits, while it expands exponentially with every previous advancement. Without the governing law on 18th century agriculture, technological civilization could be vastly different than we see today.

 

In 18th Century Britain, farm land was starting to become scarce for the first time. This scarcity came from people starting to understand the true value of the land, and those who owned more of it led the way. Old farming techniques were not adequate or efficient use of the land. Large land owners controlled the power via commissioning the laws and regulations by which the common man would eventually be forced to follow. Old farming techniques were not an adequate or efficient use of the land. Eventually, the laws and regulations forced the common man to have to sell their land, due to not being able to afford to keep it. Fees and regulation forced them into taking monetary benefits for their land, and head into the city for “opportunity”. Did these people win or lose? It depends on how you look at it. The article depicts them as losing themselves after selling out, but in my opinion, they won either way. If you really think about it from a macro perspective, this was a move that created more efficient farming. This lead to more food, and of course more opportunity in the long run for the common man. There are sacrifices we have to make individually, and as a society, in order to take advantage of opportunities to progress.

 

A few examples that come to mind when reading this article, one would be the relationship of power control through corporate America. For example, companies like Walmart & Amazon. These industrial giants are now house hold names that make up a large portion of the world consumer market. These companies were not always popular, and still to this day are look upon in a negative light by some. Walmart has and will continue to put millions of “mom & pop” stores out of business. This article found online gives some great insight on this issue (http://www.valuesandcapitalism.com/the-mom-and-pop-store-vs-walmart/). Walmart’s low margins through supply chain, business development, and ability to adapt to the consumer simply crush smaller businesses. These smaller business just cannot compete with their prices. Just like the smaller farmers were put out of business by the larger farmers with all of the control. Are we not to grow as a society because we feel sorry for the little guy? No, in my opinion the most economical and efficient companies will thrive and add the most value to society. There is a market for all valuable companies, big and small.

 

The last example I would like to relate to this article, is the theme of the survival of the fittest. In this web article, there are countless examples of how companies must adapt to survive.  (https://www.icaew.com/archive/technical/business-and-management/financial-management/financial-modelling-and-forecasting/survival-of-the-fittest-in-business ). In society we see countless examples of the strong making the major break throughs. Power equals strength, and the strong survive. The separation usually comes from change, like the change we saw in farming patterns in the article. These changes were on the cusp of revolution. Whenever there are massive revolutions like the industrial revolution, there are dispossessions that come along as well. In, The Awakening Giant: Britain in the Industrial Revolution (London:B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1976), pp. 40-44- by E. R. Chamberlin, we see him talk about the common farmer losing out on their property and losing themselves when forced to head into the “opportunistic” industrial towns. The article talks about these people numbing their pain with alcohol at local taverns, “The taverns welcomed them and, for a few weeks-or a few months-they knew the heady delight of dispensing largess, the numbing satisfaction of drinking hour after hour.” The people who were indulging in this type of behavior were not aware of the opportunities right in front of them. The new industrial towns were like oil fields just waiting to be drilled. Food from the agriculture brought fuel to the towns where people could eat, trade, buy, sell, innovate, and much more. Although the more powerful people took over the land, in the long run they created opportunity for other commerce to thrive. These agricultural laws and regulations, which came with sacrifice, paved the way for society to advance, and ultimately led to technological advances that were the industrial revolution.

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