I recently read “Riot, Risings And Revolution - Governance And Violence In Eighteenth Century England” by Ian Gilmour. It documents the civil unrest in England during that transitional period from traditional agricultural mode to the industrial mode. In some ways it is similar to the transformation going on now as the first world moves from the industrial mode into the computerized mode.
English workers were not going gently into the industrial world. They fought for wage increases, they battled with the authorities and the bosses, destroyed machines and rioted for better working and living conditions.
At the beginning of the period the English laws protected workers from abuses based on the old laws of noblesse oblige and the guilds. As the implementation of laissez faire took place over the course of the eighteenth century, the protections of the workers were removed legally to allow for a more flexible work force. Enclosure was not the main means of forcing the peasantry off the land and into the cities. Part of it was the agricultural revolution of the 18th century when new techniques developed mostly in Holland became popular in England and required a smaller work force to produce agricultural surpluses. This was one of the major reasons for the move to the cities by the now surplus agricultural population. Enclosure was part of the process, just not the main part. The agricultural revolution and profits from the overseas empire, especially India, the slave trade and the sugar plantations in the west indies provided additional start up capital in some areas for investment in the new industrial process.
There was also the availability of resources, coal, some iron ore, water power and canals to transport coal especially, these factors plus the newly available cheap labor, the lack of labor laws to protect this new work force and investment capital from agricultural surpluses and the overseas trade, provided the means for the midlands of England to become the first major area to experience the industrial revolution.
What does this have to do with anything? Not much, but it is something I have spent quite a bit of time studying and I like writing about stuff I have been studying. Most of my research was over a year ago, but I decided to finish this, even if it is a year later.