Tory Historian's attention was called to a review in the Wall Street Journal of a book that will be borrowed from London Library at the first possible opportunity: Joel Mokyr's The Enlightened Economy. The reviewer, Trevor Butterworth who is the editor of STATS.org and a columnist for Forbes.com, thinks this is the tome that should be read by all those who are interested in financial and economic matters.
The theme of the books is a question: why, of all European countries, many as advanced if not more so, it was Britain that had the Industrial Revolution?
Here is a paragraph from the review that points towards some of the answers:
But the power of knowledge would not, by itself, have given Britain its formidable economic edge; the Continent, too, had an array of scientific genius as brilliant as any in Scotland and England. (Think only of the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier.) The reason for Britain's exceptionalism, Mr. Mokyr says, lies in the increasing hostility to rent-seeking — the use of political power to redistribute rather than create wealth — among the country's most important intellectuals in the second half of the 18th century. Indeed, a host of liberal ideas, in the classic sense, took hold: the rejection of mercantilism's closed markets, the weakening of guilds and the expansion of internal free trade, and robust physical and intellectual property rights all put Britain far ahead of France, where violent revolution was needed to disrupt the privileges of the old regime.Rent seeking remains a constant problem, perhaps a greater one in the Britain of the twenty-first century than that of the eighteenth.