“Everything was awful for a very long time, and then the industrial revolution happened” (And things got MUCH better)

Image: LukeMuehlhauser.com

No kidding. There are so many people out there who rail against “capitalism” and “industrialization” and even “free enterprise” and they have no idea how fortunate they are that they live in a time when capital and innovation have been allowed to grow and breathe. (At least relatively speaking.) This is human progress. Not “universal healthcare” and other forms of welfare. Not “empathy training sessions.” Not graduated systems of income taxation. THIS. This is actual progress.

Now go out and thank your local free market capitalist for contributing to the betterment of all of humanity. Pick a card up at Hallmark.

Go ahead. We’ll wait.

(From Luke Muehlhauser)

Everything was awful for a very long time, and then the industrial revolution happened.

Interestingly, this is not the impression of history I got from the world history books I read in school. Those books tended to go on at length about the transformative impact of the wheel or writing or money or cavalry, or the conquering of this society by that other society, or the rise of this or that religion, or the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire, or the Black Death, or the Protestant Reformation, or the Scientific Revolution.

But they could have ended each of those chapters by saying “Despite these developments, global human well-being remained roughly the same as it had been for millennia, by every measure we have access to.”3 And then when you got to the chapter on the industrial revolution, these books could’ve said: “Finally, for the first time in recorded history, the trajectory of human well-being changed completely, and this change dwarfed the magnitude of all previous fluctuations in human well-being.”

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