AHC: Alternative Industrializations?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Kerney, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. Kerney defender of low probability atls everywhere Kicked

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Earth
    Otl, industrialization began in England and was originally centered around textiles and the steam engine.

    Could it have started instead somewhere with different commoditys? Say China with Steam engine and Silk, in Vinland running a steam powered saw and timber, Hawaii with geothermal and sugar?

    Basically, what could be some alternative industrializations?
     
    Fabius Maximus, NAF and Michael_I like this.
  2. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    I think one interesting idea (and a rather unorthodox one) is the beginning of an industrial revolution in one of the least industrial European powers possible; Russia. Maybe based on that Vinland idea of steam powered lumber or agriculture in some capacity?
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
    Fabius Maximus, Enzo, Simeon and 4 others like this.
  3. Orcot Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2019
    The blue banana Mostly, steam powered ships trafficing goods you could transfer food and wealth from north africa up the rhone, into the rhine (canal opened in 1833) More transport focused then production focused
     
    Simeon likes this.
  4. Mr. House Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2019
    Location:
    Sunny New Vegas
    Song Empire is the most plausible imo. Arguably they were proto industrialized IOTL.
     
    Enzo likes this.
  5. FranzAncheNo Citizen of the Republic of Pistoia

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Location:
    Republic of Pistoia
    With some very early PoDs involving pressure coockers Flanders in the Middle Ages could start one.
     
  6. Orcot Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2019
    tell me more
     
    Fabius Maximus likes this.
  7. southzone Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2019
    Mughal India, especially the Bengal region prior to colonialism, is often spoken of as a possible hotspot for industrialization. It was possibly the most urban region in the world, was wealthy, had a high population density and showed proto-industrial processes. The Bengal region was also among the biggest trade hotspots, and also produced more ships than the British and the Dutch combined.
    Another region could be the Kingdom of Mysore post-Mughal dominance. There was rapid economic growth, structural reforms, focus on industrial production (especially of military equipment).
     
    scarletqen, Simeon, cmakk1012 and 8 others like this.
  8. Albrecht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2019
    Arab Golden Age, a reformed, secularised and modernized Ottomon Empire, a united Nordic Empire, a stronger and a more unified German or Baltic states are the best candidates I can think of, other than China.
     
  9. Jared first one to PM me gets a bonus chapter of LoRaG

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    Kingdom of Australia
    There have been lots of arguments about what are the required factors to start an industrial revolution. Lots of things have been considered essential by some authors and not so many by others. But there's one factor which is absolutely essential.

    The key to an industrial revolution is having a product or products for which the demand is extremely large (including sufficient consumers who can afford to buy it), and where reducing the price for the product (by making production more efficient) increases the demand by a significant amount. This means that as producers become more efficient, they can sell much more of the product(s), and more consumers are able to afford them at reduced prices. This leads to a virtuous circle where increases in efficiency of manufacturing in turn drive increased demand. This essentially limitless demand, over a long enough time period, is essential to driving an industrial revolution.

    Historically, the industrial revolution was driven by two such cycles. One was textiles, the other was a coal-iron-steel complex where increased technology and efficiencies in the use of coal allowed greater scale of iron production, which in turn promoted demand for more iron and steel products (including some used to make coal mining more efficient). It wasn't steam engines per se, though that was part of the process; it was the whole package of ever-increasing production and reduced iron and steel prices in turn driving increased demand by making it possible to use iron and steel in many more products.

    So for an alt-industrial revolution, you need a similar cycle of having an effectively limitless demand for a product(s) which continues for long enough to foster an industrial revolution. Despite having some surface similarities, Song China didn't actually come close. In Song China, there was a large demand for iron & steel, driven largely by the massive consumption for the military. (And some other spin-offs). The military demand for iron was large, and it led to significant iron and steel production, including use of coal etc, and some large-scale iron producing enterprises. But while the military demand for iron and steel was large, it also had its limits. The military needed a large amount of iron and steel each year, but it didn't need a boundless amount. Efficiencies in production meant that better iron producers could capture a larger share of the military demand, which was good for them. But it didn't increase the overall demand for iron and steel by enough to drive an ongoing industrial revolution.

    So the key questions for asking where an alt-industrial revolution can emerge are:
    (1) What are the product(s) that are driving nearly endless demand, and where reductions in the cost of production drive a bigger increase in demand?
    (2) Where are the consumers that have sufficient capital to keep on buying the product(s), including factoring in transport costs?
    And to a lesser degree, (3) What constrains someone else from producing those product(s) in other regions, since that would otherwise cut into the demand enough to hinder the emergence of the necessary virtuous circles in production.

    Answer those questions, and you're most of the way there to answering how an alt-industrial revolution can emerge.
     
  10. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    I can definitely see criteria like this restricting the trade or production of "basic" goods like lumber from really sparking an industrial "revolution", maybe an increase in production but not a full on revolution. Historically, iron/steel was moreorless the necessary piece of that puzzle; no other material (except gold, maybe?) was so necessary and widely used after the discovery of the cheaper production process.
     
  11. Albrecht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2019
    I would also like to add a richer, more advanced and a more stable Russian Empire.
     
  12. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    My only real issue is that Russia was a backwater like it was for good reason, and I'm no expert on Russian economics in the Empire in the 19th century, but it's feasible at least that Russia might be involved in the revolution, but starting it?
     
    Socrates likes this.
  13. Albrecht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2019
    Russia has good oil and gas resources. Plus large amount of lands and resources. They could pull off, in my opinion.
     
  14. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    While they have plenty of land, people and resources they lacked in modernization. What could they have changed to allow a more "modern" Russia that could've started the revolution?
     
    Albrecht likes this.
  15. Albrecht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2019
    Abolition of Serfdom(somehow, by crisis or a revolution) would be the first step.
     
    Michael_I likes this.
  16. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    So either hard reform or straight up revolution in the mid 19th century, both of which have their issues. The more likely would be reforms and efforts to stop the Russian brain drain.
     
    Albrecht likes this.
  17. Albrecht Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2019
    I like the idea of a United Nordic empire(Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia) pulling a successful Industrial revolution. These countries had a good population, not affected much by any conflicts of the mainland, gave importance to Science and Learning, etc. It would be interesting to see this become a major power along with Britain and France in that era.
     
  18. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    It would be interesting to write up a Nordic/Russian industrial movement, if you could find an organic way for Scandinavia to form up.
     
    Albrecht likes this.
  19. Kerney defender of low probability atls everywhere Kicked

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    Earth
    So, steel and Iron is essential I suspect, but I think something that needs production leading to other changes, plus one where production could increase and the demand continue to expand as price drops. Something like timber seems too common. The secondary product seems to be something essential like cloth or spices like sugar.

    Other thought, could starting with another product cause more acute enviromental damage thus leading to enviromental awareness sooner?
     
    Michael_I likes this.
  20. Michael_I Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    One potential option is sugar, I'd say. While not as vital to the survival of nations and armies it was still a huge cash crop which often relied on lots of (enslaved) labor to harvest and use. The potential for some kind of industrialization in order to allow cheaper mass growth and production of sugar could be a secondary starting point.
     
    Fabius Maximus likes this.