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I've heard that the military revolution in Europe helps its to reach the industrial revolution. It's an answer to the question "Why the industrial revolution starts in Europe and not in China", while China and Europe had the same development levels in 1800.

But I don't understand the link between the military revolution and the industrial revolution. Could you explain me please ?

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What is your source of claim? Your hearings cannot give us an evidence to find an answer for it. – Persian Cat Apr 27 '13 at 19:56
It's an oral course. One source given by my teacher is hss.caltech.edu/~pth/ehrelectronicversionpublished2011.pdf, but I've found only informations over military revolution, not over the link. – Arnaud Apr 27 '13 at 20:29
Actually, claims need not be sourced (it's nice to have, but not mandatory). Answers do! – Felix Goldberg May 3 '13 at 18:48
Downvote alert :) You should really add a source (and preferably rephrase the question from the statement it currently implies), otherwise you may face a(nother) -1 ... – Drux May 6 '13 at 5:23
I'm really afraid... – Arnaud May 6 '13 at 5:28
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There the sustained pre-industrial productivity growth is the great surprise, particularly since it concerned a major sector of the economy and reached back perhaps four centuries before the onset of the industrial revolution. The rates of total factor productivity growth were substantially higher than the 0.1 per cent or less that characterized most pre-industrial economies. Hoffman

Hoffman's argument, boiled down to a sentence or two is that the industrial revolution is brought about by productivity growth, and that productivity growth appears in the military sector first. The techniques pioneered to make weapons more cheaply could be used to make other goods more cheaply. Once those techniques are deployed across all production, the industrial revolution starts.

I think that Hoffman's argument is a variation on the "turtles all the way down" problem. If we accept that industrial production of weapons facilitated industrial production of commercial goods, which brought about an industrial revolution", then we're really just saying that the industrial revolution caused the industrial revolution.

We haven't answered why Europe was able to deploy the industrial revolution and other cultures were not. Why didn't other gunsmiths reduce the copper in their guns? (to use an example from Hoffman?) Was it just first mover advantage, or is there some cultural/economic/geographical/other factor that served as leverage for more efficient production?

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Upvoting the answer, but disagree with the last paragraph. "We" in fact have answered that question. :-) – T.E.D. May 3 '13 at 14:20

I'm not sure it was military revolution that drives industrial revolution. There are several theories which try to explain the cause of industrial revolution. Barrington Moore, for example, proposed that it was the rise of the merchant class and the fall of feudalism which leads to mass production (which will lead again to three different political systems, but that's different story).

But to answer your question, I suppose Martin van Creveld's theory may fit. He wrote in Technology and War: From 2000 B.C. to the Present (1991) and several journals.

His basic assumption is: military revolution will always lead to a change in civilization.

It is possible because a military revolution always involves military innovations: the change in organization (the way units is arranged, leadership, etc), the change in strategy and tactics, and the most important, the change in technology. Technological innovation is often firstly used for the need of the military. Like how railroad was used in the 19th century, and internet in contemporary times. Later then it would be adapted for civilians use (which explains the link).

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metallurgical innovations for material strength. Process automation to make identical multiples. Etc. – New Alexandria May 3 '13 at 13:13

Paul Kennedy argued in The Rise and Decline of the Great Powers that Europe was criss-crossed by geographic barriers such as rivers and mountain ranges, leading to many different political entities and distinct cultures/nationalities, leading to political and military competition and technological innovation. The large empires of Asia, situated on large plains, usually with hundreds of miles between them and their rivals, on average did not have as much external competition and were more concerned with maintaining political control and social cohesion.

China and Europe may have had the same level of technology in 1500 or 1600 (and China had, then as now, many more people) but by 1800 Europe surely had pulled ahead, not only in weaponry but also in industry and political/military/financial organization.

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I enjoyed Kennedy's book but find this argument of his unconvincing: e.g. the national territories of, say, Germany, or France, or Spain, or Poland have relatively few (substantial) mountain ranges, and I'd be very surprised if they had many more rivers than China has on average: I don't remember that Kennedy gave any quantitative arguments to support his views. – Drux May 5 '13 at 6:43
Europe's mountain ranges and rivers are not the largest in the world, and any one particular country, such as France, does not have many of them. But Europe as a whole is quite geographically fractured and this has led to cultural and political fragmentation. That Germany, France, Spain and numerous other nations are distinct cultural and political entities which have competed with each other for power and influence within an area no larger than China or the Indian subcontinent, is testament to Europe's geographic and political compartmentalization. – Andrew3 May 6 '13 at 20:31
BTW, this is a partly related question (by yours truly :) – Drux May 6 '13 at 21:55

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