Barbed Wire an Ecology of Modernity book title, culture, economics, education, Government, history, Oliver Razac, opinion, philosophy, politics, Reviel Netz, Storia Politica del Filo Spinato book title, technology, The culture of Barbed wire, work, writing
Economists have invented whole theories about economic development that have out-lived their theoretical value, rarely admitting to those facts and often using “fuzzy math” in their theories.
If we think and agree that the invention of the steam engine in 1801 did more for economics in a period of less than 100 years (the largest steam engine ever built was to power the entire 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Fair), then perhaps any other invention for the preceding 500 years. (Add all of commerce for the preceding period and compare it to the period from 1801-1876) The Industrial Age had arrived, came and conquered, so to speak, and as a result economic expansion simply followed the invention.
This said, the enemy of (any) history is the indulgence in indifference toward our past. Modern economics (tongue in cheek) started for me when I found this publicity flyer dating back to March 1885 for a company with the Anglo Saxon name Bale & Edwards, Mechanical Engineers with warehousing and offices in Milan and Naples, Italy.
The brochure (above), a sales flyer is for BARBED WIRE and apparently their product was patented in various European countries like Italy, Russia, France, Germany and Great Britain. According to the information on the top, they were the sole agents in Italy for this type of Galvanized Barbed Wire. Joseph Farwell Glidden (1813-1906) born in Charlestown , New Hampshire in USA received a patent for his wire invention in 1874. In Iowa state, the town of Glidden was named in his honor. Interesting we still use this type of wire to keep cattle in and people out or conversely people in and some other people out.
The ability to turn free range areas into controlled pasture at very low cost contributed enormously to the ECONOMIC BOOM in the Western World and in the cattle range areas of North America in particular. Never before could subsequent generations enjoy eating meat without having to hunt it themselves. It helped to speed the development of urban areas that included the great slaughter house centers in Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis. Here we have a fine case of a low cost invention doing the job for well over 125 years uninterrupted without major improvements.
Can we compare the effect of this invention to the invention of the transistor or computer silicon chip of yesterday in their respective economies? The probable answer is yes. The time frame of the steam engine invention and full usage or mature period did not last that same amount of time. We have used the internal combustion engine for over 100 years and now we are giving subsidies for manufacturing hybrids, electric or other types. You could say the subsidy invented by the government was a good idea, but one to fail because of the need for extensive regulation.
In comparison to the barbed wire, the great German invention of the long range guns of WWl and WWII did not last, roughly a 30 year period or so. No type of ship design built in those days is still in service. The greatest of ships, oil tankers have now double hulls and still look like ships. No type of aircraft or rocket design has lasted this long. For well over a century now, governing birds of all feathers, be they capitalists (usually in democracies but also found in one party states where the party controls all economic aspects), as well as communists in dictatorships (one party states), have used barbed wire to control more spaces and they have wired longer stretches in the 20th Century than ever before.
The barbed wire once used to the benefit of many has turned into an enemy of most. Drones can tell us where people are and take them out but they can’t keep them out effectively. Nothing is as effective still as wire, be it known as barbed wire, razor wire, electrified wire or by any other name. Wire it is and Wire it stays. The greatest strides have been made in the European Union where border demarcation usually with wire have effectively been abolished.
According to the brochure from 1874 to 1879 roughly 255 million meters were sold or roughly 85 million feet. In 1882 that quantity doubled! In 2012 ???
Opinion: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS INVENTION? CAN A DELIBERATELY FAILED FEDERAL REPUBLIC, NOW TRANSFORMED INTO A CENTRALLY CONTROLLED GOVERNMENT UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE “NEW SUN KING OBAMA” (KING LOUIS XIV STYLE) MAKE BAILOUTS AND SUBSIDIES THE NEW LAW OF THE LAND? IT APPEARS THAT THE 600 MINIONS IN WASHINGTON D.C. HAVE DIVIDED THEMSELVES INTO TWO UNION CAMPS READY TO NATIONALIZE THE AMERICAN POCKETBOOK. THE JUDICIAL POWERS IN THE USA WILL PROBABLY GO BY THE WAYSIDE LIKE THE JUDICIAL POWERS IN MR. MORSI’S EGYPT. THE EGYPTIAN HOAX WILL PROBABLY BE A SHORT LIVED PHENOMENON UNLIKE THE EXECUTIVE ORDER PRESIDENT THAT WILL BE ENDURED BY THE AMERICAN PUBLIC FOR ANOTHER FOUR YEARS. STRANGE AS THIS MAY SEEM, MAYBE A WASHINGTON BUREAUCRAT IS THINKING ABOUT SUBSIDIZING A BARBED WIRE FACTORY IN YOUR LOCAL AREA.
Further reading on the wire subject: Reviel Netz (author) Barbed Wire an Ecology of Modernity . Published by Wesleyan Press, 2005.
In Italian: Olivier Razac (author) Storia Politica del Filo Spinato, Publisher: Edizione Ombre Corta, 2001 (I have not read the two mentioned texts above, but love to know how these authors arrived at this topic) or in English simply “Barbed Wire”.