Sunday, January 16, 2022

One of the most interesting...................

 ...........paragraphs I've read this month:

     Impressment arose in part because the age of exploration created a demand for labor at sea that could not be met through normal financial incentives.  But it also arose because of changes on land.  The shift from late feudalism to early agrarian capitalism, the great disruption that would fuel the growth of the metropolitan centers in the coming centuries, had disgorged a whole class of society—small, commons-based cottage laborers—and turned them into itinerant free agents.  By the late 1500s, the explosion of vagabonds made them public enemy number one, triggering one of the first true moral panics of the post-Gutenberg era.  Everywhere there were wanderers, whole families lost in the changing economic landscape.  Serfs once grounded in a coherent, if oppressive, feudal system found themselves flotsam on the twisting stream of early capitalism.  To everyone sitting on the banks above that stream, the change must have seemed something like the modern fantasies of zombie invasions:  you wake up one day and realize that the streets are filled with people who not only lack homes, but also suffer from some other, more existential form of homelessness—not even knowing what kind of home they should be seeking.

-Steven Johnson, Enemy of All Mankind:  A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt

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