cometaryorbit

Scadrial industrial revolution

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Posted (edited)

We see in SoS and BoM complaints about labor conditions in Elendel, and it seems implied to be similar to those in our world pre labor laws.

But how did that happen?

In our world, people moved to cities despite poor working conditions because pre industrial agriculture was really labor intensive (plus things like crop failures and famines happen, eg migration to US cities after the Irish potato famine).

But we're told several times that crops in the Basin grow basically on their own, the climate is near perfect, etc.

It actually seems like it would be really hard to industrialize there without fairly good working conditions, since the life of a farmer in the Basin would be so easy and pleasant compared to RL.

Edited by cometaryorbit
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Harvesting would still be work, and there are things that can only be gained through industrial level technology.

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Posted (edited)

29 minutes ago, Adonlasium said:

Harvesting would still be work, and there are things that can only be gained through industrial level technology.

Sure, it just seems like the incredible benign nature of the Basin's environment would really change the economics of labor.

Yes, people would still want the products of technology -- but I would expect far fewer people than in RL to choose working in a factory over farming ... mostly just people who really like machines..  if factory conditions are like the RL Industrial Revolution but agricultural conditions are vastly nicer. So I'd expect market forces (demand for labor) to push toward higher pay/shorter hours/better working conditions for factory workers, to make it an attractive option for people who aren't super into machines.

Some of this may be out-of-world/writing reasons; Scadrial is meant to be an Earth analogue,  with basically Earthlike tech development path. So the effects of a society developing in the presence of a super benign natural environment + a near empty world with no other cultures around are downplayed.

 

EDIT: one explanation, I guess, is the comment that "the Originators were all city people"; that might explain the Elendel centric, industrial development path rather than something like an US frontier / old Appalachia model with scattered small family farms*... But I am not sure if that is enough.

Edited by cometaryorbit
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8 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

It actually seems like it would be really hard to industrialize there without fairly good working conditions, since the life of a farmer in the Basin would be so easy and pleasant compared to RL.

Simple population pressure. They can make enough food with fewer people. The surplus will not get agricultural jobs at decent pay.

 

6 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Sure, it just seems like the incredible benign nature of the Basin's environment would really change the economics of labor.

Yes, but not in that way. With labour good specialists have the reverse effect. Their numbers go down.

6 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Yes, people would still want the products of technology -- but I would expect far fewer people than in RL to choose working in a factory over farming ... mostly just people who really like machines..  if factory conditions are like the RL Industrial Revolution but agricultural conditions are vastly nicer. So I'd expect market forces (demand for labor) to push toward higher pay/shorter hours/better working conditions for factory workers, to make it an attractive option for people who aren't super into machines.

Well, no. Scadrial was urbanized before it was industrialized after the Catacendre.

6 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Some of this may be out-of-world/writing reasons; Scadrial is meant to be an Earth analogue,  with basically Earthlike tech development path. So the effects of a society developing in the presence of a super benign natural environment + a near empty world with no other cultures around are downplayed.

Scadrial is an analogue to Earth, but not to the Western World. In fact, the closest analogue would probably be South America. An economic model of individual ownership of land to be worked mostly by the owners and their close family without much hired labor is by no means universal on Earth.
And no other cultures means no export. You cannot sustain an agricultural sector larger than domestically needed by exporting the surplus. Hence whenever you raise the productivity of agricultural workers, either you lower their living standards, as the surplus won't be sold, or you reduce their numbers. in practice the latter will happen.
And it means no immigration. You cannot use the surplus to boost your population by immigration.

6 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

 

EDIT: one explanation, I guess, is the comment that "the Originators were all city people"; that might explain the Elendel centric, industrial development path rather than something like an US frontier / old Appalachia model with scattered small family farms*... But I am not sure if that is enough.

  1. Suppose you walk out of your bunker after the Catacendre. You have stored food. But it won't last forever. You have to get this right. Whom do you give the tools and stuff to build efficient farms to? The few farmers you have, but they will then tell other people how to work the land, not do it themselves, because you need to get large harvests in, and to the people used to organizing large numbers of people, that is: nobles
  2. The Basin is politically decentralized. There will be no Corn Laws or agricultural subsidies. Nor will a national government help small towns.
  3. To have a US style frontier, you need unclaimed land. Can you imagine what the views of an allomancer lord on squatters' rights are? Let alone squatters from another city/political entity, again decentralization.
  4. The emotional connection to the land is not there. If you talk about the soil the ashes of our forefathers are buried in, a Scadrian would either laugh or refer you to a Zinc counselor. Harmony made it a comparatively short time ago and they all know it. Owning rural land lacks emotional and social value.
  5. Suppose you walk out of your bunker after the Catacendre. Would you rather stay with the supplies and the last vestiges of the familiar or would you go out into an alien environment to do a job you are not familiar with? The Lord Mistborn probably had to force people into farming.
  6. In terms of products/labor ratio a large farm on the best land closest to the market will win. There was never a good economic incentive to go solo farming.
  7. Nor is their experience for that available. Even plantation Skaa come from, well, plantations. They are not used to small scale farming, let alone in an alien environment. And this has to work the first time. Remember that many of the Skaa you are talking about most likely didn't even know how to cook.
  8. The Lord Mistborn needed the nobles. You cannot run a whole land with illiterates. Hence they have kept part of the economics of the Final Empire.
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3 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Nor is their experience for that available. Even plantation Skaa come from, well, plantations. They are not used to small scale farming, let alone in an alien environment. And this has to work the first time. Remember that many of the Skaa you are talking about most likely didn't even know how to cook.

Don't forget generational pressure. For at least the first (and likely second) generation born post-catacendre; the parents (grandparents) that were plantation Skaa would likely counsel against farming.

  • "You don't know what it was like"
  • "You have so much opportunity that we didn't"
  • "Anything but farming"
  • "Learn an important skill"
  • etc.

Also, we don't know what, if any, effects the metallic arts had on Farming in and around Elendel (especially when starting - need crops fast? use Pewterarms and Steelrunners)

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Unless they had some sort of general distribution of goods people would still need to find some way to get what they need, like food. If there isn't enough farmland for everyone to have their own bit that grows enough for themselves that's probably going to be trading their labor in one form or another. We also see trends towards consolidation of wealth, such as Edwarn impoverishing a poor man through a vicious loan just because he would personally end up with more money. As soon as all the farmland is owned you don't have the option of easy subsistence any more. So you'll have to find some way to earn a living enough to afford food someone else has grown.

And once you've got a food cartel, or several of them, in place suddenly the would-be farmers have no more leverage of any kind, and they're back to being stuck accepting what conditions they can get. Many move out of the Basin, but life isn't so easy there. Meanwhile, the standard of living goes up with new technologies and higher-capacity production, so there is huge demand for the things that industry can produce, including from the people that need work.

So much like in the real world, the fact that there are plenty of accessible resources for everyone doesn't matter if the distribution of those resources is skewed enough.

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Posted (edited)

Hmm it does make more sense if all the land was quickly claimed/owned by someone... but the Basin is pretty huge (like Texas sized) and the starting population must have been quite small.

As for training etc.. the picture we get in BoM is that crops literally grow wild in nice neat fields. There seems to be no real knowledge needed in the Basin.

 

Edited by cometaryorbit
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7 minutes ago, Returned said:

Unless they had some sort of general distribution of goods people would still need to find some way to get what they need, like food. If there isn't enough farmland for everyone to have their own bit that grows enough for themselves

There is though. The Basin is really fertile, it doesn't take much land at all to support people, and the population is only like 15 million even in Wax's time... and they're maybe a century into their industrial revolution (early 20th century era) so at its beginning there must have been vast unused expanses.

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11 minutes ago, cometaryorbit said:

There is though. The Basin is really fertile, it doesn't take much land at all to support people, and the population is only like 15 million even in Wax's time... and they're maybe a century into their industrial revolution (early 20th century era) so at its beginning there must have been vast unused expanses.

What things were like a century before Alloy of Law is less important for working conditions during that book that the situation at that time. Given the political climate as it's presented to us, I'd bet that consolidation of production (including food) is pretty heavy. Elendel has a pretty orderly system of government and property, enough so that a random person probably can't just wander off to a patch of land, claim it for free, and then become a subsistence farmer with no startup costs. All of those opportunities have probably already been arbitraged away by the time the books depict.

Even if they could, subsistence farming isn't necessarily the most awesome way to live. People like clothing, manufactured goods, and similar. Even if there's no knowledge or skill needed to grow enough to live on (a pretty strong assumption), there is a lag time between starting a farm and having edible food. If you're just scraping by in your factory job you may not be able to buy enough food to last you through that period.

Plus, nowhere near all of the arable land will be dedicated to food production. People will need non-food crops also, and there will be significant profit opportunities in producing as much of those as the Elendel economy can handle. Substantial overproduction of food will just impoverish the food farmers anyways. As for a life of farming being easy and pleasant, I'm going to guess that you're not a farmer, much less a subsistence farmer. Crops already grow themselves, but harvesting, processing, and storing them still represents a huge amount of difficult manual labor. Doing all that just to enjoy a lifestyle of not starving, even if an option, might not be so appealing compared to a low-wage factory job that covers food and meager comforts.

 

But regardless, I think that the issues you identify are more social and political than anything. The basic organization we see is almost feudal (Wax owns factories and employs workers, and also represents those workers in the government, for example). The government is both oligarchic and corrupt in ways that favor the already-rich and support their consolidation of wealth. In many ways, the social, legal, and political landscape seem to be tilted heavily to disadvantage the lower classes of Elendel and prevent them from having leverage like you imply they should have. That's a big part of why they have so much unrest!

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34 minutes ago, Returned said:

What things were like a century before Alloy of Law is less important for working conditions during that book that the situation at that time. Given the political climate as it's presented to us, I'd bet that consolidation of production (including food) is pretty heavy.

Right -- but the question I am asking is how the conditions at the time of the books *arose* from what existed right after the Catacendre. How did their equivalent of our 1800s Industrial Revolution happen?

It's much easier to see why people wouldn't want to leave a 1910s-era city with its easily available manufactured products, where they are used to living, and go be subsistence farmers.

The issue is why people who were already farmers would go become factory workers under pre-labor-laws conditions, in an environment where most of the difficulties of RL farming don't exist, and most of those manufactured products and modern conveniences don't yet exist either.

(Given that no structures other than the caverns survived the Catacendre and there was no industry or infrastructure at the beginning, most people must have been subsistence farmers at first.)

And Elendel if anything seems *more* urbanized than comparable era on Earth, I don't think there were any cities of 5 million in 1910.

I agree that the current situation is rather oligarchic, but again, the question is how it ever became so centralized in the first place. Spook was after all part of the skaa rebellion, and ruled for a long time post-Catacendre; one would think that they wouldn't have laws allowing absentee landlords to get legal claim to vast tracts of unused land.

(And given the size and fertility of the Basin, the vast majority of the land must have been totally unused for the first 250 years or so. Even now, much probably is.)

51 minutes ago, Returned said:

Even if there's no knowledge or skill needed to grow enough to live on (a pretty strong assumption),

 

But I think an unavoidable one given Bands of Mourning chapter 17 describes an environment where crops just grow wild, apparently even nicely placed in their own fields/patches rather than growing all mixed like RL wild plants generally do; and Wax's thoughts imply this is the norm for the Basin, and that crop failures are unknown except in the Roughs.

Marasi's POV at the beginning implies that this area is actually *less* rich than the inner Basin...

"this was still good farmland. All of the Basin was, even here at the edges, where things were dryer than in the center."

...which is really astonishing.

I was actually pretty startled when I really thought about this chapter; the Basin's super benign environment seems to go much farther than the previously stated mild climate and self-renewing fertile soil.

That's what really got me wondering about this.

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Right -- but the question I am asking is how the conditions at the time of the books *arose* from what existed right after the Catacendre. How did their equivalent of our 1800s Industrial Revolution happen?

I suppose we just don't know enough about the history of the Basin and its polities to say for certain. I don't think that the draws of bigger cities are so hard to imagine, nor the difficulty in striking out to be a subsistence farmer instead so appealing, nor wealth consolidation being advanced by invested parties over the course of centuries (I think it's ~600 years? a long time, at any rate) so implausible, nor the loss of an individualistic farming tradition over that same timescale so unrealistic (especially if farming is so productive that most don't need to engage in it). Six hundred years is a long time, representing dozens of generations.

And the Elendel set also got a large cache of knowledge from Sazed, if I remember correctly (which I may not; I'm pacing out my next re-read of era 2 to fit with Lost Metal's release), so they probably didn't even need especially long transition periods to move on to better infrastructure, technologies, and commodities. But at the same time it's also true that shadowy forces are at large, including but not necessarily limited to the Set and Trell, so there could be something more to the imbalances of modern Elendel.

But my overarching point is that I just don't find it so implausible that those imbalances might exist on their own.

 

3 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

But I think an unavoidable one given Bands of Mourning chapter 17 describes an environment where crops just grow wild, apparently even nicely placed in their own fields/patches rather than growing all mixed like RL wild plants generally do; and Wax's thoughts imply this is the norm for the Basin, and that crop failures are unknown except in the Roughs.

I've just skimmed the chapter (skimmed only), and I'm not sure this is quite as strong as you're implying. There is "a field of carrots [that] grew with green sprouts, completely uncultivated" (page 255) and a wilderness "blooming with random patches of fruit or vegetables" (page 259). Neither is all that unrealistic-- you can find carrot patches, stands of fruit trees, patches of vegetables or gourds, and similar in the real wilderness too (though I would imagine that in Elendel they're more impressive and extensive than in reality). Planting in the Basin may not be "like out in the Roughs, where planting was fraught with uncertainty, and [where] the danger of starvation was real" (page 259), but that doesn't mean that you can easily run a farm or just forage forever, let alone thousands or millions of people (though they would have a better shot in the Basin than in most parts of the real world).

Unless there is another section I've missed that doesn't imply to me that it would be easy, in terms of what you need to do to feed yourself and your family each year, to be a successful subsistence farmer. Definitely possible in most parts of the basin at least, but not obviously more attractive than city life. Particularly if city life has degraded over the last few decades. In the cities you might work hard and be poor, but as a subsistence farmer you'd work hard and be poorer.

 

3 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

And Elendel if anything seems *more* urbanized than comparable era on Earth, I don't think there were any cities of 5 million in 1910.

London had ~7 million inhabitants in 1910, and New York had ~ 4.7 million. It was definitely unusual for cities to be so massive though. But Elendel is both a deity-created paradise and also has access to magic and a great deal of practical knowledge simply handed to them. Plus the ease of growing crops would make it much easier to support a larger population with fewer farmers while also allowing large-scale production of industrial crops-- Elendel should be able to enjoy a higher standard of living than real-world cities at basically any population level, I would think.

 

3 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

I agree that the current situation is rather oligarchic, but again, the question is how it ever became so centralized in the first place. Spook was after all part of the skaa rebellion, and ruled for a long time post-Catacendre; one would think that they wouldn't have laws allowing absentee landlords to get legal claim to vast tracts of unused land.

Well, again, 600 years is a very long time. And what we see in the books clearly indicates that there are such laws, so the answer to your question of "how" is some flavor of "somehow". There are plenty of unscrupulous political actors just in the tiny slice of time we see on screen in the books; a few centuries of them would be plenty to introduce all sorts of changes from what Spook might have preferred. But you may be right that there is something more specific to the story, which we may discover in just a few months.

Edited by Returned
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Posted (edited)

Something that I'll point out for the life of the farmer at the Catacendre is that they probably had to relearn everything from the ground up, either from experimentation or The Words of Founding. The climate, cooler temperatures, lack of ash, plant physiology, and length of season all got changed when Harmony remade the world, and best farming practices all changed when you didn't have to clear ash from your fields for these weird green, orange, yellow, red things that looked nothing like what they had ever known before. Planting times, at what stage of growth you harvest, what plants were viable edible crops, what part of each plant was edible, that all changed. Even if you farmed all your life, I have no idea what knowledge would transfer to the new world, but it would be strange. 

Farming from here required scholarship because learning about what changed required literacy and access to The Words of Founding. Knowledge is power, especially for a new world like this one, and their scholar god left them a radically different world and a pile of books. I'm sure Sazed gave them some of his indexes that he had used as a Keeper but I've been unsure if learning about the changes was a matter of reading a how-to encyclopedia that Harmony compiled, or of they had to trawl through 400 religious texts and piece it together themselves. At any rate, learning the changes for the world likely started from the literate who directed the work and the illiterate who provided the labor, even if it was just picking fruit off of abundant trees or learning proper harvesting techniques for grain, berries,  etc. As evidenced by Wax's name and title, Breeze certainly got other people to do the dirty work for him. We do know that however it was setup, it was setup by city folk. 

No idea how this developed over the next centuries, but the start would have been incredibly confusing initially for the farmer. Things that are simple for us, as basic as peeling an orange, that was new.

Edited by Duxredux
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Posted (edited)

On 5/19/2022 at 11:50 PM, Returned said:

(I think it's ~600 years? a long time, at any rate)

Alloy of Law takes place 341 Years post catacendre (PC).

On 5/19/2022 at 8:40 PM, cometaryorbit said:

The issue is why people who were already farmers would go become factory workers under pre-labor-laws conditions, in an environment where most of the difficulties of RL farming don't exist, and most of those manufactured products and modern conveniences don't yet exist either.

This assumes that many of the survivors became farmers PC. However, look at who the survivors were:

  • Terris (who already had a herding/husbandry background) and Luthadel citizens in the caves complex.
  • Urteau Citizens in the Urteau Chamber (few if any farmers or plantation Skaa)
  • Fadrex Citizens and Luthadel Soldiers in the Fadrex Chamber (few if any farmers)
  • Statilin Citizens in the Statlin Chamber (no information, other than Felt was there - may have had farmers/plantation Skaa)
  • Vetitan was evacuated, and we don't know if any that went to the Kredik Shaw chamber (which would have been under the ruins after Vin's fight, but might have held some Luthadel Citizens before the fight that would have survived the keep's collapse if in the chamber)

Also, @Duxredux makes a good point - just having some farming experience may not have been much help. It seems the majority of survivors would already have had an industrial inclination (since TFE was already an industrial society with factories). I can imagine Lord Mistborn would have had to provide heavy incentives to get people to read the words of founding to learn about traditional (pre-Lord Ruler) farming methods and take up a farming lifestyle.

I think the industrial age simply grew from what it was in TFE, and as exploitation rose, this is the start of Scadrial's industrial revolution which, unlike earth, wasn't a migration of farmers toward city life - rather just a population that mostly never knew rural life so the urban industrialization just built from what the survivors already knew.

Edited by Treamayne
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On 20.5.2022 at 0:44 AM, cometaryorbit said:

Hmm it does make more sense if all the land was quickly claimed/owned by someone... but the Basin is pretty huge (like Texas sized) and the starting population must have been quite small.

As for training etc.. the picture we get in BoM is that crops literally grow wild in nice neat fields. There seems to be no real knowledge needed in the Basin.

 

Somebody having grown up in the world of ash would not even recognize an edible plant. That would change with time, but the attitudes set in the formative years last. And economically speaking, unless you have land close to rivers you will not be competitive in the market. You would be a really poor subsistance farmer.

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On 5/21/2022 at 8:16 PM, Treamayne said:

Alloy of Law takes place 341 Years post catacendre (PC).

That is a much more brief span of time than I'd been thinking. Still enough for pretty profound changes in societies (1550 - 1891 saw some pretty radical changes in various places), but short enough that the changes do seem a bit more striking given who created post-Catacendre civilization. Not so brief that the greater standards of living couldn't prompt it though, and the political dominance of Elendel's government is pretty clearly a factor regardless of timing (that's the whole reason people moved to far-flung cities or the Roughs in the first place).

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On 24.5.2022 at 6:14 AM, Returned said:

 and the political dominance of Elendel's government is pretty clearly a factor regardless of timing (that's the whole reason people moved to far-flung cities or the Roughs in the first place).

No, I am sorry, but no. This is Scadrial. The Basin is artificial. The plans for Elendel are in the Words of the Founding. You need to take into account that they may also have a list of coordinates for good places to settle and The Lord Mistborn just appointed some noble and he moved his people there, lest all of mankind (as far as they know) could be wiped out in a local catastrophe.

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4 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

No, I am sorry, but no. This is Scadrial. The Basin is artificial. The plans for Elendel are in the Words of the Founding. You need to take into account that they may also have a list of coordinates for good places to settle and The Lord Mistborn just appointed some noble and he moved his people there, lest all of mankind (as far as they know) could be wiped out in a local catastrophe.

I'm not sure what that has to do with the section of my post you quoted. The Outer Cities are in the process of revolting against Elendel specifically because of its political dominance (or at least, so they say), and the unrest is substantially fueled by how Elendel runs all overland shipping through itself while charging high taxes and denying political representation for people living outside of Elendel itself. Reading over my post again I'll certainly agree that "the whole reason" is an overstatement, definitely for the Outer Cities. Is that what you mean?

The Basin is artificial, but the Roughs are outside of it (separated by mountain ranges) and are specifically not especially good places to settle-- it's commented on again and again how much harder it is to live out there, how the land isn't as spectacularly fertile and starvation is an ever-present possibility. "Freedom in the Roughs came at a cost" (BoM, page 259). The implication of that line is that the freedom in the Roughs (freedom is not clearly defined in that quote) comes at a cost of not enjoying the lushness of the Basin.

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On 5/18/2022 at 2:15 PM, cometaryorbit said:

We see in SoS and BoM complaints about labor conditions in Elendel, and it seems implied to be similar to those in our world pre labor laws.

But how did that happen?

In our world, people moved to cities despite poor working conditions because pre industrial agriculture was really labor intensive (plus things like crop failures and famines happen, eg migration to US cities after the Irish potato famine).

But we're told several times that crops in the Basin grow basically on their own, the climate is near perfect, etc.

It actually seems like it would be really hard to industrialize there without fairly good working conditions, since the life of a farmer in the Basin would be so easy and pleasant compared to RL.

Spitballing here, I have no evidence but could it be possible there is a monopoly on agriculture in the basin and we are seeing migration toward Elendel for more economic freedom?

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10 hours ago, Returned said:

I'm not sure what that has to do with the section of my post you quoted. The Outer Cities are in the process of revolting against Elendel specifically because of its political dominance (or at least, so they say),

Sorry, it seemed to me like you were projecting the current political process in the Basin back to the first decades PC.

10 hours ago, Returned said:

and the unrest is substantially fueled by how Elendel runs all overland shipping through itself while charging high taxes and denying political representation for people living outside of Elendel itself. Reading over my post again I'll certainly agree that "the whole reason" is an overstatement, definitely for the Outer Cities. Is that what you mean?

No. I think we are seeing two processes, industrialization and political unrest, but for different reasons.

10 hours ago, Returned said:

The Basin is artificial, but the Roughs are outside of it (separated by mountain ranges) and are specifically not especially good places to settle-- it's commented on again and again how much harder it is to live out there, how the land isn't as spectacularly fertile and starvation is an ever-present possibility. "Freedom in the Roughs came at a cost" (BoM, page 259). The implication of that line is that the freedom in the Roughs (freedom is not clearly defined in that quote) comes at a cost of not enjoying the lushness of the Basin.

True. And it looks to me like settlement outside the Basin is a rather recent phenomenon, postdating the foundation of the Basin's major cities by at least a century. So whatever role the Roughs are playing now, they played none when industrialization began.

1 hour ago, Russell 9-Fingers said:

Spitballing here, I have no evidence but could it be possible there is a monopoly on agriculture in the basin and we are seeing migration toward Elendel for more economic freedom?

But are they seeking freedom? Waxillium may be a bit biased, but basically it looks like people want to belong to a house.

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5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

True. And it looks to me like settlement outside the Basin is a rather recent phenomenon, postdating the foundation of the Basin's major cities by at least a century. So whatever role the Roughs are playing now, they played none when industrialization began.

They talked about this in Alloy of Law (at least about the Northern Roughs, but it could apply to other regions):

AoL Ch 13

Spoiler

 

“It’s the life of a lawkeeper,” Waxillium said. “If you gave up, fine. But you didn’t have to join the other side.”

“I was already on the other side,” Miles said. “Where do the criminals come from? Was it the shopkeeper next door who started rampaging and murdering? Was it the boys who grew up near town, working their father’s dry farm?

“No. It was the mine workers, shipped out from the City to dig into the depths and exploit the latest rich find—then be abandoned once it was exhausted. It was the fortune hunters. It was the rich fools from the City who wanted adventure.”

“I don’t care who it was,” Waxillium said, still backing up. He was on the next-to-last car. He was running out of space to retreat. “I served the law.”

“I served it too,” Miles called. “But now I serve something better. The essence of the law, but mixed with real justice. An alloy, Wax. The best parts of both made into one. I do something better than chase the filth sent to me from the city.

“You can’t tell me you never noticed it. What of Pars the Deadman, your ‘great catch’ of the last five years? I remember you hunting him, I remember your nights without sleep, your anxiety. The blood on the dirt in the center of Weathering when he left old Burlow’s daughter dead for you to find. Where did he come from?”

Waxillium didn’t reply. Pars had been a murderer from the City, a butcher who had been caught killing beggars. He’d fled out into the Roughs, and there he had again worked to sate his grisly obsession.

 

So a mine is opened and workers either volunteer or are voluntold (if Miles' rant of criminals being sent to work in the mines is to be believed) to move out there and work the mines - Shanties become villages, become towns (as IRL) and you have a spreading "community" in the roughs centered around the mine. Even if the mine was exhausted and closed, some of the community would likely stay where they have settled and if it lasts long enough you get places like New Seran where a large city grew up to be the "hub" for a hub-and-spoke mining operation in a larger area.

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On 5/26/2022 at 0:02 AM, Russell 9-Fingers said:

Spitballing here, I have no evidence but could it be possible there is a monopoly on agriculture in the basin and we are seeing migration toward Elendel for more economic freedom?

But again how is a monopoly possible?

The Basin's land is still not 100% used; a century ish ago when industrialization began it must have been largely - probably mostly - wild & unused.

On 5/22/2022 at 1:57 AM, Oltux72 said:

Somebody having grown up in the world of ash would not even recognize an edible plant. That would change with time, but the attitudes set in the formative years last. And economically speaking, unless you have land close to rivers you will not be competitive in the market. You would be a really poor subsistance farmer.

That "attitudes set" argument works both ways though - if attitudes were that set why did they get a government so different from what it appears Spook's original intent was? Especially as his reign was so long.

Re rivers: maybe, but I still think you are understanding what the Basin is like. What we see in BoM ch 17 is specifically rather poor land for the basin...

IE the worst land in the Basin for farming is probably better than Earth's best

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10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

But again how is a monopoly possible?

It isn't a monopoly. They have efficient big farms in the best spots. The market is just saturated.

10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

The Basin's land is still not 100% used; a century ish ago when industrialization began it must have been largely - probably mostly - wild & unused.

That argument is based on the implicit assumption that the Basin has a latent food shortage. Suppose you want to establish a new farm.
OK, now you have land. So has the competition. Only that they have land already cleared and developed. And they have the machinery. And they have centuries of experience in farming. Economy of scale is on their side. And they are in the places shipping is cheap from. You will be operating at a loss. With the noble houses controlling the railways and river boats you can be sure that it is much cheaper to ship grain in bulk and so on.
The very fact that the land is so good kills the family farm as a concept. It drives down the value of land and labour in farming. Instead you get the importance of capital and transport.

10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

That "attitudes set" argument works both ways though - if attitudes were that set why did they get a government so different from what it appears Spook's original intent was? Especially as his reign was so long.

Because he found out that the people who were most likely to share his ideals were illiterate and hopelessly uneducated. He needed the remainder of the noble houses to run a government. And he could not afford a failure. They were operating close to the edge. Building a single mansion was an issue. He had to use a system he knew to work.

10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Re rivers: maybe, but I still think you are understanding what the Basin is like. What we see in BoM ch 17 is specifically rather poor land for the basin...

IE the worst land in the Basin for farming is probably better than Earth's best

Permit me in excursion into the ecology of ants. Some species have soldier ants. If you try to measure their effectivity in combat, you will find that the species with the best soldiers have the fewest of them. That is the basic principle of economics you do not apply to the Basin.
If everybody can have the best land a god made for his favorite people, undeveloped land is worthless.

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Posted (edited)

On 5/29/2022 at 1:32 AM, Oltux72 said:

OK, now you have land. So has the competition. Only that they have land already cleared and developed. And they have the machinery. And they have centuries of experience in farming. Economy of scale is on their side. And they are in the places shipping is cheap from. You will be operating at a loss. With the noble houses controlling the railways and river boats you can be sure that it is much cheaper to ship grain in bulk and so on.

I am speaking of a time before anyone had machinery or railways - at or just before the beginning of the industrial revolution not the current ~1910 tech.

Once an industrial type economy and infrastructure exists everything you say make sense. It's getting to that point.

On 5/29/2022 at 1:32 AM, Oltux72 said:

And he could not afford a failure. They were operating close to the edge. Building a single mansion was an issue. He had to use a system he knew to work

At the very beginning, sure, labor was very limited.

The Basin is so lush & mild though that I can't see them being  "close to the edge" for more than maybe a year-- what threats would there be? Not starvation, not hostile weather, not external enemies... probably not much infectious disease...

--

But I suppose I am making an assumption which may well be wrong- that since Elendel is based on ~1910 New York therefore 150-200 years ago the situation would have been like 18th century America, most people being farmers and the cities being a small part of the population.

It's possible that the extreme lushness of the Basin let them urbanize right at the beginning. Maybe they were never 80%+ farmers even a few years in.

I guess the hereditary nature of Allomancy and its historical association with nobility (4 years or so wouldn't be enough to remove the idea) might push towards centralization under the noble houses too.

Edited by cometaryorbit
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The Final Empire had a technology level about 1750 to 1800 minus guns. You are drastically underestimating the amount of capital and technology you need to be a decent farmer under those conditions. You need housing, draft animals, a stable for them, a yoke, a plough, maybe a till, harvesting equipment and most crucially a cart or wagon. All these things are expensive. And somebody without a background in family farming cannot just make them.

Now, you might live as a hunter/gatherer or join the Coloss. But that is another story.

5 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

At the very beginning, sure, labor was very limited.

No. Materials were. They came out of the shelters and their manufacturing base was gone. They were limited to what The Lord Ruler had stored and what they had left on their persons. Even to melt down the empty cans they would have needed coal. They had a lot of unskilled or semi-skilled labor, but little labor trained in rebuilding. They knew that they were operating on limited time. They, or at least their leadership, had to reestablish mines, get metal and cloth produced, probably some sawmills and so on.
Their level of technology was in grave danger.
Technically food was the very first priority, but the very fertility of the land allowed you to get by with inefficient methods.

5 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

The Basin is so lush & mild though that I can't see them being  "close to the edge" for more than maybe a year-- what threats would there be? Not starvation, not hostile weather, not external enemies... probably not much infectious disease...

Bad water, hypothermia, poisonous plants, wild animals, mental health (most of those people had lost most of their family and their whole world), lawlessness, ....

Essentially they were in a gigantic refugee camp. Now they had some limited stored resources and tools. Whom do you give them to? The ones who know what they are doing, or how to organize people and can read the manuals Harmony had left - that is city people and predominantly nobles at that.

5 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

--

But I suppose I am making an assumption which may well be wrong- that since Elendel is based on ~1910 New York therefore 150-200 years ago the situation would have been like 18th century America, most people being farmers and the cities being a small part of the population.

Indeed these assumptions are flawed. And frankly, the question is wrong. The economy, demographics and social organization of a Basin projected back in time at the rate the Basin develops never existed. The people who came out of those shelters were essentially subjects of The Lord Ruler or infants. Even then they were a highly skewed sample of the urban parts of it, as building a bunker in places without the people to fill it is no good.

Then the question of how it developed depended on on factors you would not find on Earth, let alone colonial era North America, such as a centralized supplies, the words of God available only to a minority and God's chosen leader in command.
Sazed left them a gift with consequences in form of the Words of the Founding. As trivial as it is to state that, books are usable only to the literate. They, however, were a minority among the citizens of The Final Empire. Furthermore, if Spook really decided that you would no longer eat, you were dead. Not an environment in which nonconformists prosper.

 

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10 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

The Final Empire had a technology level about 1750 to 1800 minus guns. You are drastically underestimating the amount of capital and technology you need to be a decent farmer under those conditions. You need housing, draft animals, a stable for them, a yoke, a plough, maybe a till, harvesting equipment

Final Empire tech is weird/uneven. In the cities tech was 1800ish without gunpowder, yeah, and the canal system is similar. But did your average plantation skaa really make heavy use of draft animals, harvesting equipment, etc.? I got the picture of a much more hand tool dependent agriculture, especially from the description of dealing with ash problems in farming in HoA. It sounds like they were carrying the ash away with people not ox/mule carts.

11 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Now, you might live as a hunter/gatherer

In an environment where fields of crops just grow on their own, as we see in BoM ch 17, farming and gathering wouldn't be as strictly distinct as they are on Earth IMO.

11 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Bad water, hypothermia, poisonous plants, wild animals

Given the very Edenic way the Basin is described, I kind of doubt there was bad water or (easy to mistake for edible) poisonous plants close to where people emerged.

Lions exist in the Roughs, not sure we have evidence of any animals dangerous to humans in the Basin.

Basin weather seems super mild, doubt hypothermia was a problem.

--

The urban origin of the survivors probably is the key here, yeah. Though the Terris were pretty well represented and mostly rural, and two of the caverns were in smaller towns (Vetitan and one other).

Hmm, I really don't see Spook as starting out as autocratic, organize-everyone-to-survive as you suggest. The end of Secret History gives me the idea he's a bit embarrassed to be given special treatment with his "mansion".

And I'm still not convinced there was ever any risk/concern about *survival* post emergence. Sure they could easily have failed to rebuild their technology-- but I think a low tech culture there would not be at any risk of extinction.

 

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