Author Archives: pseudoerasmus

About pseudoerasmus

www.pseudoerasmus.com

State Capacity & the Sino-Japanese Divergence

Why China did not industrialise before Western Europe may be a tantalising and irresistible subject, but frankly it’s a parlour game. What remains underexplored, however, is the more tractable issue of why Japan managed, but China failed, to initiate an early transition to modern growth … Continue reading

Posted in China, East Asia, Japan | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Jo Guldi’s Curiouser & Curiouser Footnotes

In The History Manifesto, historians Jo Guldi, the Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of History at Brown, and David Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Harvard, repeatedly misunderstand or misrepresent the research they disparagingly cite in … Continue reading

Posted in History Manifesto, Industrial Revolution, Inequality | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

La longue purée

In The History Manifesto, two historians, Jo Guldi of Brown and David Armitage of Harvard, urge their peers to turn away from microhistory and go back to doing Big History in the longue durée tradition of Fernand Braudel. The book also doubles as a rant against the … Continue reading

Posted in Environmental Economics, History, History Manifesto, Social Science | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Was slavery necessary for the Industrial Revolution ?

Did western industrialisation require American slave cotton ? What coal and sugar might tell us. (Short answer: It’s reasonable and plausible to argue slavery accelerated the industrial revolution, but not enabled it. It’s profoundly unreasonable to say the IR could not have happened … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, global history, historians of capitalism, Industrial Revolution, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Edward Said on Bernard Lewis

Just quoting my favourite unintentionally hilarious passage from Said’s Orientalism.

Posted in History, Middle East & Islam | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

A horse ! A horse ! My serfdom for a horse !

Part 2, England, of my critique of Nick Szabo’s view of industrialisation. This is continued from Part 1, “Chinese workers were cheaper than English horses“.

Posted in great divergence, Industrial Revolution | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Conscientiousness & Technology

From the plastics industry, a very concrete, real-life example of how conscientiousness matters in the use of a medium-level technology and how high(er)-technology might help.

Posted in productivity, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Piketty & Slave Wealth

A quick note on Piketty, slave-wealth, and US capitalism.

Posted in historians of capitalism, Slavery | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Ye Olde Inæqualitee Shoppe

A quick note : Income inequality in pre-industrial societies was, in general, lower than in modern industrial societies, but traditional agrarian economies tended to be closer to their “maximum feasible inequality” than modern ones.

Posted in Branko Milanovic, Income distribution, Inequality | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The emptiness of life will save us from mass unemployment

I don’t I have much to add to the debate about the dystopian robot future scenario envisioned by many people. But I do think the nightmare scenario is less mass unemployment than a kind of revamped neo-mediaevalism. I’m not predicting … Continue reading

Posted in Income distribution, Inequality, Technology | Tagged , , | 7 Comments