The Steam, British age of Bodies of Metal
The 72 years steam cycle. I Age: Discovery.
…And so Great Britain wins the Napoleonic wars, invigorated by a new generation of ‘Am Segullah’, Financial speculators (Rothschild being his most visible head) and Scottish engineers, which use the capital accumulated with black slave trade to create a white slave industry of miners, steel and mill factories:
I Kondratieff Cycle: Steam: World Power: Great Britain.
Founding Generation, reproductive age, Imperialism and decay
1783 1814 1853 1914
Watt, Pitt, Nelson, Stephenson, Owen, Victoria, Maxim, Edwards
In the previous scheme, each generation of the steam cycle is represented by the key economical and historic dates and its main characters:
In 1783 Watt invents the steam engine. In politics Pitt directs the nation. In war Nelson commands the Navy . . .
In 1814 Stephenson invents the train and the reproductive, mobile age of steam machines starts in earnest. We highlight the figure of Owen, the humanist entrepreneur, who tries to share wealth with his workers, as he affirms: ’what improvement in the life of people could we achieve; if industrialists took care of their workers with the same zeal they protect their inanimate machines’. But an economical crisis of overproduction brings war profits in 1853 and workers are taken care in a very different way. It is the Crimean war, the most absurd of all carnages till I W.W. Maxim invents the gun machine and Nobel invents the Dynamite, becoming the great entrepreneurs of the military age of colonial empires.
Queen Victoria is the decadent ruler of this generation, who will deny the Irish famine, as ‘Pope’s propaganda’… Disraeli is his favorite Ministry, a Jewish financier, who wrote in his youth a book, ‘Coningsby’, boasting how the money of his people controls ‘behind the scenes’ the future of kingdoms and nations. When he reaches power, he applies those millenary skills to the control of the ‘Free World’. The world is in the middle of the I Kondratieff crash, caused by the excesses of railroad investors, who keep printing ‘for free’ shares of companies, even if all the profitable lines have been built; while agriculture, life-enhancing human goods and the common people have no credit whatsoever. Yet Free Trade ideologist Malthus blames the poverty of the people, not on those reproductive excesses of machines but on sex (human reproduction). Irish don’t die of hunger because Irish money goes to subvention imperial war and feed the pockets of absentee English renters, instead of being reinvested in the land, but because those Catholic heretics make love too much, work too little.
II Reproductive, Age: railroads expand.
Thus, we consider the Founders of Industrial Britain the generation that took power after the American Independence War, when England suffers a deep change in his hierarchies of industrial power. Since the American market for slave and cargo trade is gone, now ship-owners and City financiers reinvest their capital in the new industries, powered by steam engines and managed by Scottish engineers. That capital sprouts mills and smelting furnaces in Scotland and the axis Liverpool-Manchester, where the Industrial R=evolution of Metal begins in earnest. It is a hardy generation that develops steam industries with ‘white slaves’ treated worse than the black slaves of their former plantations.
In 1804 Fulton uses a steam machine to move a wheeled boat and the Mississippi basin acquires the topic image of its river steamers. In 1825 the age of steam transportation begins in earnest with the opening of the railroad Stockton-Darlington and the invention of the ‘Locomotion’ by Stephenson that reaches the astonishing speed of 15 Km/h.
It is the Re=productive Generation of steam engineers, who expands the English Empire, its trains and customs, globally. In 1851, in the Universal Exhibition dedicated to new machines, Great Britain astonishes a world ready to accept the awesome new ‘Age of Energy’. It is a peaceful age of economic expansion, where good causes carry the day. For once, Britain can feel proud of its empathy to the human species, abolishing slavery, no longer its main business. Though at the same time it will promote opium trade—the only goods Taoist Chinese want from the West. The first social movements appear among workers. Trade Unions start their activities.
Besides ‘white slaves’ and children working ‘ad metalla’ in mines, another kind of casualties appear. Before the train, horses were the main energy carriers. Now trains made them obsolete: within a decade, 90% of them are sacrificed to the machine.
Within 40 years after the steam engine was invented, Scottish engineers and financiers from the City have constructed an Empire of railroad networks to satisfy travellers and invent stock money in the market. Thousands of miles are laid, while people die of hunger, without resources to pay their food and improve agriculture. It doesn’t matter. As an industrialist put it to Engels, when the social thinker complained on the conditions of life among textile workers—‘Certainly, Mr. Engels, but we both are making so much money, peculiar, isn’t.’
Trains expand now globally as new nations imitate the British industrial system. 3 new countries construct railway networks in their Empires: France, Germany and the United States. In the North-east, the railroad New York-Chicago signals the American industrial take-off. In the 1850s, railroads provoke a craze in the stock-market that reproduces money faster than ever before to build those lines.
The power reached by the great captains of the new industries of Iron and Railroads is difficult to assess properly, because money is invisible and bribes are hidden by political rhetoric. But we can see their influence analysing how lobbyist politicians adapt their speeches to the new technologies. Now concepts such as ‘progress’, the ‘future’ and ‘technology’, substitute old nationalistic and ‘greed’ speeches in the arsenal of political corruption. Global, financial resources are drawn with a single aim: capitalize railroad companies. In 1840 in England the train is already the engine of the economy, absorbing more than half of the capital of the nation. Then in 1847, in England and France, stocks collapse in a first warning against overproduction. Immediately workers are fired, poverty spreads among ‘white slave’ workers and in 1848 social revolution explodes, but it is defeated all over Europe.
III Age: The Great crash, the train Wars.
Railroad companies, once the inner revolution is controlled, expand further their lines in Europe, while in America a splendid little war with Mexico conquers Texas and California, ensuring decades of transcontinental railroad expansion. Soon the gold rush supplies the financial markets with fresh money to construct them and the crisis recedes.
But in Europe, without Californian gold, the crisis lasts longer. And in 1851 the mood of the industry changes. The railroad, iron and steel industry decide to sell weapons, since there are no more profitable lines to build. They force a change on Free Trade policies and Great Britain advocates for protectionism within its Empire, to keep 1/4th of the Earth as an exclusive market. So Britain changes once more its discourse, from freedom against slavery to the colonization of Africa, from Peace to War. The Crimean war explodes in 1853. Now England defends the brutal rule of the Ottoman Empire over Slavic Christians, against Russia that tries to free them. The cynicism of that war, with hundreds of thousands of dead,reflects the decadent, 3rd generation of a declining British Empire, which will sacrifice all ethic considerations, to profit. Now their military use steel in armoured railroads, steamers and guns.
The cruelty of British Imperial soldiers provokes rebellions elsewhere. The mercenary Sepoy, till now loyal soldiers to the Empire, rises in India due to the indifference of British officers towards their religious customs. They are forced to bite cartridges greased with cheaper cow and pork fat that Hindi and Muslim religions forbid. Once defeated, the Indian Company, proprietor of the entire subcontinent, which doesn’t want to pay the military expenses anymore, is ‘subvention’ by British tax-payers and the country is turned into an Empire. Those wars show the solution out of the crisis: to make railroads in the 3rd World. So British and French colonize Africa with trains and steamers.
At home, after the 1848 socialist r=evolution, the labour movement is repressed. Now the bourgeoisie accepts his supreme role as civiliser of the world by the force of cannons and lives decade after decade of apparent happiness, while the Empire builds its railroads and spends its iron overproduction, ‘civilizing’ natives.
It is the beginning of an era that articulates empires around armoured railroads and steamer routes, the new imperialistic weapon that substitutes the gunboat, allowing the inner penetration of Africa through Jungle Rivers and steamers and the conquest of the American west. Still Europe is saturated of railroad lines and so, once the extraordinary expenditures of iron in the Crimean and Mexican war end, overproduction surfaces again. In 1857 Markets sink in the biggest global crash till date. The previous two mini-crisis have taught industrialists the proper solution: if a small crisis was solved with small war (Mexico, Crimea), why not a big war for a big crisis?
In America an obscure lawyer and lobbyist for the Illinois Railroad company, infamous for the way he has convinced peasants to give for free their land to the Railroad for the ‘sake of national progress’, Mr. Lincoln, is chosen president. He presides over a cabinet of engineers and railroad moguls that want to build lines South to North to haul cotton to New England Mills. He faces the rebellion of Southern Planters that prefer to sell cotton more expensive in Europe, transported by gunboats. The issue ‘steams’ in the parliament, as the North wants to impose a tax on imports/exports that will make southern cotton too expensive for Europeans. Soon war breaks to ‘unify’ America. The idealistic excuse is the freedom of the ‘negro’. In Europe a similar process takes Moltke—the railroad master of the German army— to war, also to ‘unify’ all German-speaking nations. The role of armoured railroads in the victories of Grant and Moltke is undeniable. In Italy, the industrialized North, Savoy, centre of the railroad industry, leads also the Unification wars. So, throughout the 1860s, idealistic excuses hide the expansive militarization of railroad industries and the greed for new profits and land of those countries that produce them.
The imperial age of the railroad is called descriptively in America the age of Robber Barons. People like Staunton, war minister, who masterminded the killing of Lincoln, when the president showed democratic weaknesses for the black’s. The likes of Stanford, who builds the transcontinental, become the new owners of America, designing the West around train routes. To that aim the same Lincoln had passed the Railroad Act, giving 1 and ½ Californias of free land, both sides of the railway, to the companies that built the transcontinental, plus hundreds of dollars in subvention for every mile they build.
New weapons (breech-loader rifles and revolvers, the famed Winchester and Colt) fire so fast and are so entertaining that railroads distribute them among passengers to exterminate bisons on their way. The hidden agenda was already established by Jefferson: ‘if we destroy the food supply of the Indians, they will disappear, as they are not fit to survive in our complex world’. Gunboat companies had distributed blankets, infected with smallpox.
Without those transport weapons, Africa would have been left unconquered. Now idealistic explorers map the route, then steamboats penetrate the rivers, establishing factories. They trade with weapons, exchanged for silver and gold. Then colonization begins and the continent becomes a colony, in which trains are built along routes that take Europeans to zones rich in metal wealth (Katanga, Pretoria, etc.). Even Russia, after its defeat in the Crimean war, learns the power of steam and starts laying radial networks departing from Moscow, ending with the building of the Trans-Siberian. Canada and Australia also create, with an ever growing speculative capital, subscribed by corrupted governments, 2 transcontinental lines, traversing thousand of miles of desert land, despite being already connected by traditional boats.
As always, during the III Kondratieff cycles, the choice between spending money in life-enhancing goods, in a Demand Economy for the people and useless machines for companies and their small elite of ‘stockrats’, is rigged by the ‘dictatorship’ of money and corrupted politicians, in favour of the machine. In those uncharted lands the native tribes of Siberia, Australia and Canada also learn the consequences of ‘Progress’ under the tutelage of the ‘iron horse’.
Meanwhile Germany, with less territories to build and without an empire to conquer, exhausts sooner its railroad cycle and their industrialists research alternative machines and new forms of energy, establishing the foundations for the next Cycle of Chemical Energy and its machines of peace and death – the German Age.
The last railroad wars are fought at the turn of the century to distribute the final pieces of the colonial pie: steamers obtain trade concessions on Chinese rivers and South African railroads move North, towards the Transvaal and Rhodesian mining zones. Great Britain again wins the biggest pieces, after the Boer war in South Africa and the Boxer war in China, both in 1900. Newly industrialized countries will enter the XX century fighting for those final territories. The Russians will divert their resources to the Trans-Siberian, confronting the expanding Japanese empire. Manchuria is the battlefield of Chinese, Russians, Koreans and Japanese, who win them all and build railroad lines across ‘their territory’. Meanwhile thousands of workers die of malaria and tropical fevers in the Panama Channel, finished in 1914, where boats are hauled by railroads. It will be the last act that closes the century of big energy machines. Now the oil cycle is mature enough to take over, as diesel engines are mounted in locomotives.
By the turn of the century the English are technologically behind Germany that has developed first the chemical and electric industry. The English won’t ever rule the world alone, but arrogant animetal cultures never acknowledge defeat, as all of them believe to have a unique ‘destiny’, ‘Chosen by Go(l)d’. So, as it happened with baroque Spain and Rococo Holland, the British culture enters a long age of spiritual decay that extends till I World war, as it clings to power, using its war machine, now against the defenceless people of its colonial empire; while Germany heads the new Industrial Revolution.