The Industrial Era
(Passing Like a Kidney Stone)

Dateline: 22 February 2014

An agrarian-industrialism time line
(click to see a much larger view)

A reader of this blog (Matt B.) sent me the timeline above. He made it to get some historical perspective regarding agrarianism and industrialism. The timeline assumes a 6,000-year  “new earth” span of history. Green represents around 5,800 years of agrarianism while the red represents around 200 years of industrialism. If your faith is such that you think the earth is older than 6,000 years, no problem—just picture the line longer, with more green.

You can click the picture to see a larger view, but cramming the span of history into a short line doesn’t translate to a lot of clarity. Nevertheless, what is clear is that the industrial age we now live in is a relatively new phenomenon. You could say it is a historical anomaly.

When I look at that timeline I’m reminded of professor Walter Prescott Webb’s Boom Hypothesis of Modern History. If you are not yet familiar with Webb’s macro understandings of history (and the future that lies ahead of us), please go now and read about it. 

Once you understand the Boom Hypothesis (and it’s very easy to understand) you will not only know how the industrial age came to be, you’ll also know that it will surely end. And you’ll probably realize that it is ending before our very eyes. Walter Prescott Webb saw this back in the 1950’s. 

Also, once you grasp the simple reality of the Boom Hypothesis of Modern History, you will have better insight into our current world situation than all of the mainstream economists, politicians, and media talking heads. 

Those people seem to think that the Great American Consumer Economy is going to rise again. A little adjustment here and there and we’ll get that old perpetual prosperity machine restarted. Just you wait and see. 

Well, maybe, but I really doubt it. Humpty Dumpty has fallen. All the king's men and all the king's horses will not be able to put him back together again. A new economy will emerge. It will be an economy based less on complexity and more on simplicity. It will be based on limitations. It is inevitable. Professor Webb's hypothesis is now less of a hypothesis and more of a present-day reality. The sooner you grasp it, the sooner you can adjust your thinking and actions to embrace it.

It is human nature to not recognize and embrace new realities, especially when they involve enormous cultural and economic paradigm shifts. This is especially the case when the mainstream media is so cleverly manipulating, amusing, pacifying and leading the masses. And the government is manipulating the numbers. 

Propaganda and blatant lies flow continuously from the highest levels of government. How can you tell if Obama is lying? Just watch his lips. If they are moving, he’s telling another lie. Lying and deceiving the people is not just politics, it's an industrial-era science (do a Google search of Edward Bernays, the father of media manipulation).

If you judge the economic health of this nation by the stock market, you are deceiving yourself. Back when I had my satellite radio and was a FOX news listener, I remember  one afternoon when Shepherd Smith was reporting that the stock market was way up. He was beside himself with excitement. The man was downright giddy. Nothing else mattered at that moment. The national debt didn’t matter. Quantitive easing didn’t matter. America’s trade imbalance and lack of industrial base didn’t matter. All that mattered was that the stock market was heading up in a big way that afternoon. Shep was thinking that the old perpetual prosperity machine was working again. Such is the shallow, short-sighted, sound bite economics of the mainstream media, and those who rely on it.  

I’m persuaded that there is no fix for the current economic distress America finds itself in. The mainstream economic planners are in uncharted territory. They don’t have answers. They have  best guesses. Listen to This Interview with a long-time central banker if you think the economic planners actually know what they’re doing.

Our economy has passed the Rubicon. There is no turning back. Chaos and radical change lies before us. The government social support systems are unsustainable. The so-called American dream of ever-increasing wealth and convenience for each new generation is coming to a close. 

This is inevitable because America has built its economic edifice on the presumption that there is no limit to resources and growth. But, in truth, we live in a world of limitations. All remaining valuable natural resources (the raw materials that nurtured and sustained the industrial era) are scarcer, harder to extract, and more expensive. Worse yet, much of creation—water, land and air—has been poisoned and ruined by the industrial quest for perpetual prosperity. Yes, there are limits. 

The industrial anomaly will pass much like a kidney stone... with pain, and suffering, and prayer, and humility. 

Most people will go through the five stages of grief as the industrial age crumbles: Denial (where our civilization is now), anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance (and hope). But there are many people who will bypass the first four stages. They will go directly to acceptance and hope. These are the people who have the courage to face reality now, who refuse to cleave to the industrial paradigm now. 

How does one refuse to cleave to the industrial paradigm? By not being a slave to the industrial masters. By doing more for yourself. By living with less. By seriously questioning the expectations of all industrial-world institutions. 

It is difficult to make decisions and plan for something when you do not fully understand all the factors that are involved. It seems there is always more than meets the eye. This is especially the case with so many media news stories. But some things are fundamental, and they have always been true and trustworthy.

What is fundamental and true and trustworthy is that there has always been a great measure of security within a family, living on the land, eschewing debt, knowing how to do things for itself, like planting seeds and growing a garden.

For now, we have choices. Choices about how we will face the future. But the choices will become less and less as the sun sets on this industrial era. Then what? Well, then we will have a new day. It will be the dawning of the age of neo-agrarianism. Embrace it now, while you still have choices.


For those who are new to my agrarian writings and wish to learn more about how to embrace the cultural and economic sea change that is coming, I recommend the following essays:

Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense

How To Get Through The Coming Hyperinflation

The Jeffersonian Solution


Sunnybrook Farm said...

Kind of like the Jamestown settlement where all the best plans seemed to fail and the place was falling apart until Smith took control and made everyone do their share of the work. Well maybe not exactly like that but if you study that event it is an eye opener.

RonC said...

I would wager that there is a red strip missing in the pre 2300 BC area of that time chart. I've no idea as to how big it was.

Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

Is there a curriculum or any other authors you recommend for a high school, home school economics course/study? I am looking for something that gives a honest biblical look at history, present and future and not totally swayed by the industrial/boom years.

Herrick Kimball said...


You're not the first person to ask me that. I don't know of a curriculum to recommend. Maybe someone else reading this does?...

RonC said...

To answer Cynthia's question, Henry Hazlitt's "Economics In One Lesson" comes to mind.

Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

Thank you Herrick and RonC. I will check that out.

Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

RonC: "I would wager that there is a red strip missing in the pre 2300 BC area of that time chart."

I was going to say something similar. I have a feeling the world has been down this road before.

"Hey, where's my giant skull capacity?"

Anonymous said...

I've just finished (re)reading The Jeffersonian Solution, plus the comments. I appreciate that essay. Curious if you ever got that published? It's "funny", in the comments, that because Jefferson was human, meaning imperfect, that the commenter will reject everything that he said that he doesn't agree with. Of course if a person follows that logic, then there is no excuse for rejecting Christ. Just my observation. Also, McAvaney's more recent interview, about the debt bomb is interesting, don't you think?


CHazzercise said...

Herrick, As a financial/econ news junkie, I think that was an excellent interview you linked to. Thanks.

CHazzercise said...

Oh, and Hazlit's "Economics in One Lesson" is a good place to start for teaching econ to your kids. You might check out
can't vouch for it as I know little about the course work. Murray Rothbard, a student of von Mises Is probably the best refutation of Keynes in the 20th century, aside from von Mises, and is much easier to read. But is still upper classman HS or college level material. It would put an adolescent to sleep. None of this addresses a biblical "pre-industrial" view as econ is, at least nowadays a product of industrialism. Just look at Marx for example (an intellectual fraud, IMO) Marxism is simply an alternative theory (to state capitalism and mercantilism) for dealing with industrial production as is the Laissez-faire. I know that I'm rambling, but last thought... Isn't it interesting that the fundamental political-economic debate today is essentially a variation of the same debate 200 years ago? That is, is the market more efficient when individual decision is allowed to prevail or when the government intervenes and "plans."

Anonymous said...

For homeschooling we use Alpha Omega. Also check out as they have a curriculum in their store.

Herrick Kimball said...

No, it was never published. And, yes, that McAlvany interview was a good one. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors going on with the world economy, trying to make it seem better than it is, but I do think the goose is cooked.

As a fellow financial/econ news junkie, you're welcome. I'm glad you listened to the interview with the central banker. He made some surprisingly frank (and ominous) admissions.

Anonymous said...

I know that Agrarians can be accused of utopianism - and I suppose in some cases there can be truth to that claim, especially when it's oversold as if adherence to its tenants would usher in millennial bliss; however, I've begun thinking even more about just how counter to human flourishing our life in an Industrialized society is. While we all have to live in the world we're in, rather than the one we'd like it to be, I wonder at what point we (broadly speaking) finally say that what we're doing is truly unsustainable. We have to change, but, sadly, we often won't do so until the level of pain is intense enough.

Thanks for another great article!

David Smith