Sunday, November 2, 2008

History 5 on industrialization

Berkeley's History 5 has been one of the first podcast lecture series I discovered back in the days before my blog and it was the first I would follow from beginning to end. I wouldn't have to follow it any more, if I didn't feel this was about the best podcast recommendation I can give to my readers. And so I keep listening, noticing the little differences and making sure it still is you way to go in history podcasts.

Also with the current lecturer, Professor Carla Hesse, History 5 remains the best podcast and the basic baggage I think a history podcast listener should take with him, or her for that matter. In comparison with previous lecturers (Anderson and Laqueur) Hesse goes much faster through the first part of the described era and so we wind up in the Enlightenment and French revolution before the mid-term. And right after the mid-term we have hit the Industrial Revolution.

In Anderson's lecture series, I also high-lighted the issue about this revolution and it is a thrilling comparison with Hesse's take. Both professors emphasize there is no industrialization out of the blue, but whereas Anderson puts the preceding agricultural revolution to the center, Hesse goes a step further.

Hesse's conclusion is, it is better to speak of industrialization and not of a revolution. She argues the process starts earlier and continues much longer. Industrialization also changes its pace and geographical focus throughout history and then the real question is why it happens at all. Here she seems in agreement with Anderson, that there is an important part to be played by the population boom and that that was made possible by more intensive agriculture. However, she doesn't show this as an explanation, but rather as a question, a profound question as opposed to the contemporary Malthus's doomsday scenario, which supposed population could not grow without hitting catastrophical starvation. Why didn't this happen? What made population grow in the first place, before developments in agriculture and industry supported it?

Ideas about global warming, disease immunity and social changes (earlier marriages, more kids) pass the stage. This is only one example of the fantastic quality of this series, year in year out, twice a year. It is only too bad the audio is sometimes really bad. Hesse apparently speaks with her hands and frequently knocks the microphone about, causing drastic changes in the sound levels.

See also:
History 5 by Carla Hesse,
Capitalism and Socialism,
Air pollution in London,
Industrialization in Germany,
Agricultural Revolution first.

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