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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Child Labor

Many defenders of "capitalism" (a contested term, I grant you: we have markets anarchists like Rod Long promoting "markets not capitalism"!) note that child labor was nothing new in the industrial revolution: most children had always worked in human history, from the time they were old enough to do so. But this ignores a huge qualitative difference in what "work" meant: going out to hunt one's own lunch in the wild (go to about 9:10 in the video) is a wee bit different than laboring 14 hours a day in a textile mill or coal mine, because the ruling class had enclosed all of the common land you might have used to go fetch your own lunch.

4 comments:

  1. OMG, private individuals making decisions? We certainly cannot have that. They just might be able to succeed!

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  2. There was also a long gap between then and the industrial revolution in which child labor was on farms, and significantly more similar to factory work.

    On a side note, if they unenclosed all that land and let people hunt their food, the only megafauna left to eat after about a year would be humans...

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    Replies
    1. 1) You are surely are correct about that.

      2) Hunter-gatherer societies were pretty good at staying in balance with their prey. Look at American bison under the unenclosed Amerindian regime versus enclosures! From maybe 25 million to 541 in a space of a few decades.

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    2. 2) Yes, because their population was so low -- that's the point. As a matter of resource limits, unenclosed England couldn't handle its population at that time -- certainly not with a hunter/gatherer diet high in megafauna.

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