The Agrarian Economy and the Industrial Revolution

Exploring the framework for a “Balanced Development” model

 

Ramses Rashidi

©2008 Center for Balanced Development (www.cbdus.org)

 

 

The New Face of the Agrarian Economy

 

Although the old ways of farming and animal husbandry are still popular in many parts of the world, however, for the most part the agrarian economies of ancient civilizations have evolved. Gone are the days of the agrarian kingdoms of the history books. Today, agriculture has become the domain of corporations with the mass production of farm products having taken on the characteristics of a modern industrial assembly line with sophisticated machinery and corporate executives at the helm.

 

To maximize production and profits, the corporate farmer has adopted measures to safeguard the

farm products and animals from pests and unknown disease by using chemicals, fortified artificial feed, antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified organisms, as well as other questionable practices that call for public awareness.

 

In the recent years, we have started to notice that there might be a connection between what we eat and how we feel. Could our health be affected by some of the chemicals and preservatives that have become part of our meals? Could our food sources be responsible for the rise in health problems, emotional instability, and societal and family conflicts? Could the pesticide-laden air of the agricultural areas contribute to the poor health and mental performance of people living in the surrounding areas?

 

The answer to these and many other questions could lead us to a path of exploration of balance and moderation in the agricultural practices of today. It seems like an organic micro-farming approach could be beneficial to the well-being of both the farmers and the consumers. Such an approach will foster a greater understanding of the importance of how we grow and utilize our farm products, as well as creating an appreciation for the tremendous contribution made to society by the farmers.

 

 

The Industrial Revolution and its Evolution

 

The emergence of the industrial revolution and its impact has been tremendous. In the last century and a half, human life on earth has gone through huge changes unlike anything witnessed in recorded history. We have achieved great progress in our ability to utilize our natural resources to improve living conditions. We can now communicate and travel around the earth faster than ever before. We now have the ability to go to other planets and establish space stations. We invent technologies that seemed impossible just a few years ago. To enumerate the multiplicity of ways that civilization has advanced in the modern age is obviously beyond the scope of this article. However, it’s important to note that we now have the capability to create almost anything that which we can imagine. Another words, the human race has matured to the point where our imagination, and how much we believe in ourselves, could be the only obstacle that stands between us and those objective and goals that we want to reach. Whether we dream of world unity, or we are occupied with an invention that would make life more pleasant, we now realize that we can achieve such goals to the extent that we are loyal to our vision. Studying the lives of the great visionaries, philosophers, scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs of the modern times reveals that, having been moved by the spirit of the age, these individuals were able to envision the great discoveries and inventions that we benefit from today.

 

On one hand, we can also see that the initiation of development process in the industrial age has been a good thing. From the time that the first wire communication was established by Samuel Morse on May 23, 1844, to the invention of the telephone, the train, the automobile, the airplane, the television, and the computer; all show the incredible minds behind each invention and the ability of man to create that which could be imagined. It’s also interesting to note the excitement of the initial stages of the development of a major invention ….. riding in a model-T Ford, driving on a paved road, flying in an airplane, watching images on a box called television, talking to someone half way across the world through a wire ….. It’s all fascinating and magical. Like children in the candy store, we are mesmerized by new technologies and gadgets that enter the market.

 

On the other hand, we see a process of development that keeps growing and getting bigger and bigger without any regard for moderation and balance. Entrepreneurs, moved by the excitement of the project and the potential profits, oftentimes are unaware of the impact of their work on the natural resources, the environment, human health, and even human relations. The notion that current development trends gradually keep adding to the already chaotic lifestyle and polluted environment around the planet is undeniable. Should we continue on this path in pursuit of prosperity until we reach catastrophic consequences? Do we realize where we are heading if we continue at the current speed? Isn’t it true that the growth patterns of many popular industries and rich countries have gone way out of proportion in relation to other industries and regions in the world?  What happens to the human body when the different cells or organs grow out of proportion in relation to the rest of the body? Isn’t that called cancerous cells, and if not checked,  can kill the afflicted person?

 

A very important feature of the industrial age, and the development trends thereof, is the idea of the entrepreneurial spirit and the ability of the individual to focus on developing a product or service that becomes popular and therefore achieves great success.  The rags to riches stories of the great industrialists of the 19th and 20th centuries are truly inspiring and wonderful to read. However, man’s love affair with the “machine” and his inability to incorporate balance into the growth process has come at a huge cost to the environment, and to the quality of human life; increasingly straining human relations at the family level and across the globe. As the trustees of Planet Earth, and of an ever-advancing human civilization, we are accountable to the future generations for the protection and preservation of the natural resources, and more importantly we are responsible to develop and pass on a social foundation and structure that is based on unity, harmony and peace.

 

In the next article we shall examine the characteristics of the Age of Information and the upcoming Spiritual Era.

 

Ramses Rashidi  (ramses@cbdus.org) is the founder and director of Center for Balanced Development.

The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and services that foster global balance in social, personal, ecological and economic development.