Current Anthropology, 34(3), 227–254. Let’s hope that the human traits to which he attributes economic progress are acquired, not genetic, and that the countries that grow in population over the next 50 years turn out to be good at imparting them. Political economist. Would an increase from, say 0.05 percent of the population to 0.50 percent have mattered much?). The question is, what is this selective pressure doing over the long-term? Nuts and ber-ries from the forest are scattered Clark offers a social Darwinist theory of why the industrial revolution occurred in England. Organisms that have more offspring will have their genes spread throughout the gene pool. Focusing on England, where the Industrial Revolution began, Clark argues that persistently different rates of childbearing and survival, across differently situated families, changed human nature in ways that finally allowed human beings to escape from the Malthusian trap in which they had been locked since the dawn of settled agriculture, 10,000 years before. (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World.) David Landes, an economic historian and a living national treasure if there ever was one, began this movement nearly 10 years ago when he looked in part to culture to explain “why some are so rich and some so poor” (the subtitle of his classic overview of world history). Although the records are scant, he finds that on average richer people were more likely to marry than poorer people, they married at earlier ages, they lived longer once they were married, they bore more children per year of marriage, and their children were more likely to survive and to bear children themselves. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience. The book's title is a pun on Ernest Hemingway's novel, A Farewell to Arms. Consider the example of Genghis Khan, one of the most fertile males in history. Every story has to begin somewhere. View all posts by Blair Fix, Your email address will not be published. And he repeatedly insists that this was the world in which humans, everywhere, lived for eons: “Living standards in 1800, even in England,” he writes, “were likely no higher than for our ancestors of the African savannah.” After this prelude, however, discovering that the Industrial Revolution is consistent with a Darwinian explanation because it occurred so gradually comes as something of a surprise. You’ll help me continue my research, and continue to share it with readers like you. In “A Farewell to Alms,” Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, suggests an intriguing, even startling answer: natural selection. A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark, 9780691141282, available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. It is a feature of every hierarchical human society. xiii, 420pp. Allen: A Review of Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms 947and even the intriguing fact that Malthus’s family line died out because his children had none of their own (p. 81, n. 19). Let's get jobs, economic opportunities, and institutions of free societies for people in Africa by collaborating with its nations to foster an enabling environment that will make this possible—and bid a farewell to alms. Amazon配送商品ならA Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton Economic History of the Western World)が通常配送無料。更にAmazonならポイント還元本が多数。Clark, Gregory作品ほか、お急ぎ便対象商品 The greater prevalence of those traits in turn made possible the Industrial Revolution and all that it has brought. Thus they will dismiss it out of hand. Clark is correct to assert that the differential reproduction of the rich has all the characteristics needed for Darwinian natural selection. I thought I would spark some controversy by reviewing Gregory Clark’s “A Farewell to Alms”. So it cannot be used to explain why the industrial revolution happened in England. Figure 6.2 shows how the number of surviving children increased as a function of wealth at death. Your email address will not be published. To conclude, Clark’s thesis contains a grain of truth that is unsettling. (1974). She finds that those with greater social status consistently have greater reproductive success. We know this from animal breeding. Clark's combination of passion and Clark argues that this led to the genetic spread of bourgeois values such as literacy, non-violence, and a productive work ethic. Egalitarian behavior and reverse dominance hierarchy [and comments and reply]. [4] Boehm, C., Barclay, H. B., Dentan, R. K., Dupre, M.-C., Hill, J. D., Kent, S., … Rayner, S. (1993). [1] Betzig, L. L. (2012). Clark is thorough in explaining the perverse mechanics of the Malthusian world, in which food production and therefore population are strictly limited, together with the perverse implications that follow. By contrast, Clark’s explanation for the Industrial Revolution is a change in “our very nature — our desires, our aspirations, our interactions” — that occurred within recorded history, indeed within the last half-dozen centuries. Did Khan’s descendents inherit this tendency for despotism? Muckraker. What is interesting is that authoritarian individuals not only like to give orders — they also like to follow them. The authoritarian personality believes wholeheartedly in obedience. And even if we knew this, we would need to establish that these genes determined bourgeois behaviours (such as literacy, non-violence, work ethic). Pp. During this time, the rich consistently out-bred the poor. Right or wrong, or perhaps somewhere in between, Clark’s is about as stimulating an account of world economic history as one is likely to find. Where does he go wrong? The Industrial Revolution made all the difference." Clark's combination of passion and This requires a brief review of Darwinian theory. The evidence for this is overwhelming. income countries today family income bears no systematic relation to the number of children produced. Why do unskilled immigrants with little command of English still walk across the deserts of the U.S. Southwest to get to the major urban labor markets to reap enormous rewards for their labor, even as undocumented workers?”. But this is all that Clark gets right. First, it provides an internal mechanism to explain the Industrial Revolution. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies. "A Farewell to Alms asks the right questions, and it is full of fascinating details, like the speed at which information traveled over two millennia (prior to the 19th century, about one mile per hour). A chilling possibility is that differential reproduction by hierarchical elites has slowly led to the spread of the “authoritarian personality”. (Catastrophes like the Black Death or failed harvests make people — those who survived, that is — better off by reducing the numbers competing for limited resources; improvements like sanitation or new medicines, or even charity, make everyone miserable.) Humans are a product of evolution and natural selection and there is no reason to suspect that this selection has stopped. The interesting (and far harder) task is to understand why some organisms have more offspring than others, and to understand what traits are being spread. Why do some countries have an economically helpful culture while others don’t? The central argument in Darwinian theory is that evolution is driven by differential reproduction. This is an incendiary idea. By violently conquering much of Asia. The reasoning is that those who achieve differential reproductive success are those who have a genetic urge to seek power. Along the way, their behavioral traits and attitudes became ever more dominant. Nor does he introduce any evidence, of the kind that normally lies at the core of such debates, that traits like the capacity for hard work are heritable in the sense in which biologists use the term. If the key to economic progress in the past was the survival of the richest, what is in store now that the richest no longer outbreed everyone else? How did he achieve this differential reproductive success? The Russian zoologist Dmitry Belyayev famously bred foxes for tameness. Genes undoubtedly influence behaviour. If you liked this post, please consider becoming a patron. The thesis of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms is that, for most of human history and But where did they come from? Over time, the “survival of the richest” propagated within the population the traits that had allowed these people to be more economically successful in the first place: rational thought, frugality, a capacity for hard work — in short the familiar list of Calvinist, bourgeois virtues. This is a tautology — it has to be true. Laura Betzig has done fascinating research on this topic [1,2]. Given the conditions at work in England nearly a millennium ago, changes naturally occurred that made an industrial revolution probable, if not inevitable. The issue here is not merely a matter of too often writing “perhaps” or “maybe.” If the traits to which Clark assigns primary importance in bringing about the Industrial Revolution are acquired traits, rather than inherited ones, there are many non-Darwinian mechanisms by which a society can impart them, ranging from schools and churches to legal institutions and informal social practices. The rich out-breed the poor, thus their genes will spread throughout the population. For starters, differential reproduction by social class is a feature of almost every human society, not just England. 4, 01.12.2008, p. 946-973. A review of gregory clark's a Farewell to Alms : A brief economic history of the world. After decades of banishment to the realm of sociology and other such disciplines, the idea that a society’s “culture” matters has recently reappeared in economics. In “A Farewell to Alms,” Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, suggests an intriguing, even startling answer: natural selection. A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World is a 2007 book about economic history by Gregory Clark. Is this a genetic tendency that has been bred out of modern populations by the differential reproduction of hierarchical elites? Figure 4.3 shows how male fertility increased as a function of wealth. (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. "A Farewell to Alms asks the right questions, and it is full of fascinating details, like the speed at which information traveled over two millennia (prior to the 19th century, about one mile per hour). But it contains an uncomfortable grain of truth that we need to acknowledge. By raping and pillaging. But this is misguided. The problem is that Clark makes no attempt to determine what genes are being spread. And, since no society got very far in economic terms before the Industrial Revolution, what caused the culture of the recently successful ones to change? Of all animals, human behaviour is the least genetically determined. A Review of Gregory Clark’s “A Farewell to Alms” I thought I would spark some controversy by reviewing Gregory Clark’s “A Farewell to Alms”. This seems far-fetched, but we cannot dismiss it completely. But this does not mean they are false. Alternatively, we can simply hope he’s wrong. It is published by Princeton University Press. Ethology and Sociobiology, 3(4), 209–221. The ultimate (unconscious) goal is to use power to achieve greater reproductive success. Why in high-income economies is there still a robust demand for unskilled labor? Blogger. In other words, they believe in the legitimacy of hierarchy. His idea also stands in contrast to the entire orientation of Enlightenment thinking, including Adam Smith’s, toward accepting human nature as it is and asking what social institutions would allow humankind with that nature to flourish (as Rousseau put it, “men as they are and laws as they should be”). Maybe social and political institutions — democracy, tolerance, the rule of law — played a role in when and where living standards increased. As a result, children of the rich had to (on average) drop in class. Instead, I want to focus on differential reproduction by social class and what Clark gets right and wrong. A Farewell to Alms: A Brief History of the World Gregory Clark Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007, 420 pp. In “A Farewell to Alms,” Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, suggests an intriguing, even startling answer: natural selection. No deus ex machina, like James Watt’s improving the steam engine, or the Whigs’ overthrow of James II leading to England’s Glorious Revolution, is necessary. The Industrial Revolution made all the difference." A confusion over an abbreviation in this letter … Thank you for your interest in spreading the word about The BMJ. Betzig argues that the urge to seek power is in fact Darwinian. Further, the populations of some rich countries in Europe are shrinking, apart from immigration, and the United Nations Population Division projects that 97 to 98 percent of the entire increase in the world’s population between now and 2050 will be in the developing world. But why not go one step further: If culture is responsible, where does it come from? The intermediate steps in his thesis currently have no empirical support. The problem is that many social scientists will likely find this whole line of reasoning abhorrent. Another troubling aspect of Clark’s book is the tension between his portrayal of the Industrial Revolution as a gradual development, as it would have to have been if it were the consequence of an evolutionary process — “the suddenness of the Industrial Revolution in England was more appearance than reality,” he claims — and his emphasis in early chapters on the iron grip of the Malthusian economy from which the Industrial Revolution finally allowed humanity to break free. Clark’s hypothesis also raises a troubling question about the future, albeit one he doesn’t mention. At present, there is simply not enough evidence to make much of an argument. [3] Boehm, C. (2009). (A lacuna in the argument is that Clark never says just how prevalent this Darwinian process made the traits he has in mind. But if the traits on which his story hinges are genetic, his account of differential childbearing and survival is necessarily central. “Just as people were shaping economies,” he writes in a typical formulation, “the economy of the preindustrial era was shaping people, at least culturally and perhaps also genetically” (emphasis added). For example: “We think of the Industrial Revolution as practically synonymous with mechanization, with the replacement of human labor by machine labor. Groups of individuals actively suppress power-seeking individuals, sometimes violently. Hierarchical status and wealth is a reliable way to achieve greater reproductive success. In other words, they have authoritarianism in their genes. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) Clark's combination of passion and Hierarchy in the forest: The evolution of egalitarian behavior. But Clark’s eye is fixed steadily on the idea he’s pushing; the details are fascinating, but they are there because they help make his central argument. If we are going to make a gene-behaviour argument, we need to be on a solid empirical footing. Clark’s hypothesis is interesting for at least two reasons. Despotism and differential reproduction: A cross-cultural correlation of conflict asymmetry, hierarchy, and degree of polygyny. This had to happen because the rich reproduced faster than their replacement fertility rate. Fine, but what brought about the new technology? Rezension zu / Review of: Clark, Gregory: : A Farewell to Alms. Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms (Princeton University Press, 2007) has attracted more attention, both from economic historians and economists and from the general public, than any economy history monograph since Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman's Time of the Cross (1974). We should be skeptical of Clark’s conclusions because they require a leap of faith.
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