- Dec 2015
Let's assume the relatively stagnant age of subsistence agriculture:Technically or pragmatically?
It's like to wonder how we were able to breath before of the discovery of oxygen ...
Technically the conception of economic growth is a measurement and it's not that old [Solow won a Nobel Prize with a math model about it in 1959], historically we can say that with the middle class and the conception of "surplus" our countries begun to think to the economical growth. The passage from physical richness [lands, persons, animals, precious metals ...] to just economical richness [money, business, trade ...] saw the idea of economical growth gain its first importance. I'd say early XVIII century, if we want to indicate a historical period.
On the other side, pragmatically, economic growth is an aspect of an expansive society and human societies have always been expansive. So that until the appearance of forms of barters, expansive primitive micro societies [tribes] saw something which we can describe as "economic growth". Even before of recording what was happening with some kind of writing system.
While regime changes were relatively common, we could assume the following for literate subsistence agrarian communities before industrial agriculture:
A small literate administrative elite was in charge of most affairs.
Productivity per hectare remained relatively constant.
Most commoners still subjected to famines and pestilences, even the royals and nobles were not exempt.
Most commoners barely fed themselves with the best efforts.
Technologies remained relatively stagnant.
Then, industrial agriculture, printing presses, and other machines mushroomed.
If Technics and Civilization is correct, the tipping point between industrial civilization and iron age civilization should begin during somewhere during the 1000 CE.