Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wikipedia Goodies

Given our newfound dependance upon natural gas as an energy savior, I thought this was interesting:
In 1821, William Hart dug the first well specifically to produce natural gas in the United States in the Village of Fredonia on the banks of Canadaway Creek in Chautauqua County, New York. It was 27 feet deep, excavated with shovels by hand, and its gas pipeline was hollowed out logs sealed with tar and rags. It supplied enough natural gas for lights in two stores, two shops and a grist mill (currently the village's Fire Station) by 1825. Expanding on Hart's work, the Fredonia Gas Light Company was eventually formed in 1858, becoming the first American natural gas company. The site of the first gas well is marked by a stone monument in downtown Fredonia.
Fredonia, New York

Now we literally generate man-made earthquakes to get the stuff. Things that make you go, Hmmm....

I had heard of the Luddite revolts which happened about two hundred years ago, but the Canut Revolts occurred in France among the Canuts - the silk weavers - in the 1830's. If you read the account carefully, and I suggest you do, you'll see a point I make here often - that capitalism has been a government project since day one. There has never been, nor even can there be the "pure" capitalism that Libertarians imagine. It also shows that capitalists screwing workers has been going on for a long, long time.
The First Canut revolt in 1831 was provoked by a bad economy and a resultant drop in silk prices, which caused a drop in workers' wages. In an effort to maintain their standard of living, the workers tried to see a minimum price imposed on silk. The refusal of the manufacturers to pay this price infuriated the workers, who went into open revolt. They seized the arsenal and repulsed the local national guard and military in a bloody battle, which left the insurgents in control of the town. The government sent Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, at the head of an army of 20,000 to restore order. Soult was able to retake the town without any bloodshed, and without making any compromises with the workers. Though some workers were arrested, all were eventually acquitted. The revolt ended, with the minimum price abolished and with the workers no better off.

The Second Canut revolt in 1834 occurred in a prosperous economy that had caused a surge in workers' wages. Owners saw these wages as too high, so they attempted to impose a wage decrease. This combined with laws that oppressed republican groups caused the workers to rebel. The government crushed the rebellion in a bloody battle, and deported or imprisoned 10,000 insurgents.

A third insurrection occurred in 1848. Although it was as violent and was motivated by almost identical worker exploitation, 1848 was a year of revolution all over Europe and it did not acquire the same renown as that of 1831. Indeed, the revolt of 1831 encouraged many other worker revolts of the 19th century.
Canut revolts

Indeed, most of the so-called "benefits" we receive today were not the natural results of capitalism at all, but results of hard and bloody battles that have been whitewashed from history.

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