The Real Revolutions of History

It should be noted that technological progress is often left out of historical discourse. Many people have a tendency to frame technological change purely in terms of social changes. While these sorts of cultural changes are both important and significant, it is important to remember that technological progress can help facilitate these changes in the first place. In some cases, it helped create the cultural climate in which they could occur.

The Industrial Revolution changed the world. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the nature of human labor changed. People were now proles living in cities doing work in factories, rather than people doing outdoor work on farms for the sake of maintaining their own meager subsistence. However, the Agricultural Revolution that made that way of living possible was a piece of technological change in its own right, especially given the amount of time that humanity spent hunting and gathering.

Agricultural societies allowed humanity to create the sort of populations that have made the modern world possible. Hunter-gatherers travel in small bands and they move around from place to place. In order to have technological change and in order to have an advanced society, the population needs to stay in one place. This was barely possible before the days of agriculture, where agriculture made it possible for people to control their food supply. In this regard, the Agricultural Revolution made it possible for the Industrial Revolution to occur.

It is interesting to note that as soon as the Industrial Revolution happened, the Digital Age was not very far off. The Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution were hugely displaced in time. The Digital Age and the Industrial Revolution were barely separated by two centuries, depending upon how historians define the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Digital Age has united the world in a way that would have seemed magical at any other point in time.

The social changes that occurred around these events seem to have utterly transformed humanity in general. Hunter-gatherers are very different from farmers. Farmers are very different from factory workers. Factory workers are different from the people who work in the complex digital world. The societies that they create are going to be just as different. Given the accelerating pace of technological change, people can only dream of how the next big technological revolution is going to change humanity in recognition of the fact that it has happened over and over again.