A lecture from Living Freedom 2018, the Academy of Ideas residential school for 18- to 25-year-olds interested in exploring the historical ideas and contemporary debates related to freedom, which took place on 5-7 April 2018 at the Council on International Educational Exchange in central London.
It has been claimed that the Industrial Revolution was the biggest turning point in human history. It was the moment when the creative potential of society was left free to flourish, leading to huge changes from life expectancy to the growth of cities, from wealth production to the establishment of democratic nation states. Yet, in today’s climate of pessimism and low expectations, the Industrial Revolution is often either seen with scepticism or as a historical accident, a result of factors such as technology or cheap raw materials from the colonies. The crucial missing link is the relationship between the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. In the former, the mind demands its freedom; in the latter, it shows what it can achieve when it is free to translate its ideas into action.
Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos
lecturer in sociology and criminology, York St John