The Greatest Lesson From History You Probably Never Learned
umair haque

Very interesting article and dialogue. I believe a key element missing from Umair Haque’s essay and almost totally absent in the dialogue is the basis for wealth. Michael Sanders comes closest when he points out that the U.S. crushed the Confederacy during the Civil Wat because it was where the industrial revolution was happening. The South’s agrarian, slave based economy could not win.

The missing element is energy. All wealth comes from energy; the North’s industrial development in the mid 1800s was grounded on coal. Land and resources (biological and mineral) are necessary, but without energy to gather and manufacture (and educate the scientists and engineers and bankers and accountants) there is no modern capitalism. Or communism.

I recommend to readers the study of systems ecology and how complexity relates to political economy. Thomas Robert Malthus is considered one of the first political economists, and the study of how energy use relates to it has come a long way in the two centuries since he lived. The reading list is long. Joseph Tainter’s “The Collapse of Complex Societies” is one place to start. Another is Donald Worster’s “Shrinking the Earth”.

Speaking of slavery, I think this explains what I’m talking about in a simple format…