It is hard to understand why most educated people have no idea that modern life is 100% the construct of modern commerce originating in the 1800’s with the industrial revolution.
Many people see modernity as the by-product of science, technology, economic growth, medicine and/or government. Some think it might have been caused by religion or capital.
Those are all completely wrong. Simple examples can disprove all of the above false gods but it is understanding both the history of modern commerce and the nature of modern commerce that are needed to disabuse most readers of their false notions.
Let us take the simple examples first.
- Science. The USSR for 75 years was just as competent in science as any part of the modern commercial world. But anyone who went to the USSR in the 75 years, as I did in 1981, knows that it wasn’t part of the modern commercial world. Ordinary people, and often even the most elite people, lacked clean drinking water, clean water for a bath or shower, heated living conditions, good transportation, outside of the two major cities, adequate food including vegetables and meats. People in the USSR, with advanced science, did not have departments stores or grocery stores much less the ability to travel around their own country or start a business.
- Today Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea have most modern technology available to the elite members of their society, but not to 95% of the people. High tech weapons are fully operational from tanks to automobiles, xray machines, lasers, radar and computers. Technology exists in nearly fully operational form but nothing there resembles modern commercial life.
- One of the richest per capita countries in the world is Saudia Arabia along with Brunei. No one who visited these countries would doubt that they had bought all their building technologies and their transportation to appear to be a modern commercial nation. They have GDP and capital but they lack even one shop that can manufacture a modern bicycle, a pack of cigarettes or a pencil.
- Medicine and associated sanitation ideas are found fully developed in Johannesburg, Kabul and New Delhi; but they have average population lifespans of 54 yrs, 47 yrs and 60 yrs. Modern commerce does not come from medicine and sanitation but out-of-control population growth does.
- Lastly does religion bring modern commerce with it? Max Weber suggested that the ideas of Protestantism was the source of modern commerce. That doesn’t explain the very modern commercial bootstrap nations of Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. Japan has a religious base of Shinto and Buddhism, Taiwan is Daoist, Confucian and Buddhist while Singapore is equal parts Hindu, Confucian and Christian.
- Is government the source of modern commerce? Of course we find stable and modern government everywhere from Communist East Germany to North Korea but rarely did it or does it generate a modern commercial world.
No, modern commerce is not explained by any of the standard ideas, not even close. I have given a stark and dramatic proof that shows how each of the standard ideas of the source of our modern world is wrong. Much more is needed to understand why the modern world is solely the by-product of modern commerce.