Staples, Markets, and Cultural Change

Staples, Markets, and Cultural Change: Selected Essays

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 576
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  • Book Info
    Staples, Markets, and Cultural Change
    Book Description:

    At the start of his career Innis set out to explain the significance of price rigidities in the cultural, social, and political institutions of new countries; by the end of his intellectual journey he had become one of the most influential critics of modernity. The essays in this collection address a variety of themes, including the rise of industrialism and the expansion of international markets, staples trades, critical factors in Canadian development, metropolitanism and nationality, the problems of adjustment, the political economy of communications, the economics of cultural change, and Innis's conception of the role of the intellectual as citizen.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6536-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Celebrating Innis: The Man, the Legacy, and Our Future
    (pp. xiii-lx)
    Daniel Drache

    Harold Adams Innis remains far and away Canada’s most brilliant political economist, and the centenary of his birth in 1994 is a fitting occasion on which to honour him with a new edition of his essays and articles. In his lifetime, Innis made many contributions to the study of economic geography and history, communications theory, regional development, and the history of Western civilization and technology. In his work on economic settlements and markets, he was preoccupied with the role and fate of aboriginal peoples, the development and spread of commerce, the interpenetration of cultures, the economic consequences of social disturbances,...

    • CHAPTER ONE The Importance of Staple Products in Canadian Development
      (pp. 3-23)

      Fundamentally the civilization of North America is the civilization of Europe and the interest of this volume is primarily in the effects of a vast new land area on European civilization. The opening of a new continent distant from Europe has been responsible for the stress placed by modern students on the dissimilar features of what has been regarded as two separate civilizations. On the other hand communication and transportation facilities have always persisted between the two continents since the settlement of North America by Europeans, and have been subject to constant improvement.

      Peoples who have become accustomed to the...

    • CHAPTER TWO The Political Implications of Unused Capacity in Frontier Economies
      (pp. 24-34)

      The implications of economic development on the North American continent to the economic history of Europe have been traced in detail and in general and broad generalizations have emerged to describe their character. An attempt has been made to suggest effects of concentration on specific staple products in Canadian economic expansion, particularly in the confused period of shifts to new staples. Unused capacity involved in exploitation of staples had its effect in prolonging the dominance of one staple or in hastening its decline, and contributed powerfully to the disturbance of equilibrium in Canada and in Europe. The heavy outbound cargo...

    • CHAPTER THREE Decentralization and Democracy in the Atlantic Basin
      (pp. 35-48)

      This paper is concerned with the changes in types of power in the Atlantic basin following the discovery of America. Direct control from Europe under the French, Dutch, Spanish, and British empires has gradually changed with emergence of independent states in North and South America and of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In Canada European institutions were more strongly entrenched and feudalism continued to exercise a powerful influence, latterly, for example, in the control of natural resources by the provinces. The provinces have become landlords with great disparity of wealth varying with federal policy, technological change, and provincial policy. The...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Economic Development of the Maritime Provinces, 1867—1921
      (pp. 49-65)

      The economic history of the Maritime Provinces since Confederation is largely a history of the effects produced on them by economic movements in the countries of the western world and in particular those of the Atlantic Basin. These provinces have reflected faithfully the important economic changes in Canada, the United States, the West Indies, and Europe. The Civil War and subsequent industrial development of the United States, the revolution in transport by land and sea, the rapid growth of Canada since 1900, and the recent European War all left a deep impression on them.

      The accuracy with which the Maritime...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Penetrative Powers of the Price System on New World States
      (pp. 66-87)

      Economics is an older subject than statistics, but this paper is confined to the period since statistics began to leave its impression on economics and reached that stage, fatal to economics, when it came of age. Professor G.N. Clark inScience and Social Welfare in the Age of Newton(Oxford, 1937) has traced the background of statistics, in the growing importance of mathematics through astronomy, surveying, and book-keeping which followed the discovery of the New World, prior to its beginnings with the publication of John Gaunt’sObservations upon the Bills of Mortalityin 1662, or four years before the census...

    • CHAPTER SIX Liquidity Preference and the Specialization of Production in North America and the Pacific
      (pp. 88-120)

      The last half of the nineteenth century was characterized by a series of erratic outbreaks of economic activity along the Pacific coast of North America and in Australia which suddenly transformed vast, scantily populated areas into regions producing enormous quantities of raw materials for a highly industrialized Europe. Traffic to the Pacific had been restricted to commodities of high value and light bulk, such as furs, wool, and tea. The encircling movement of world trade which surrounded the globe first in the fur trade in which traders from Russia met traders from Europe and North America in Alaska was strengthened...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Transportation as a Factor in Canadian Economic History
      (pp. 123-138)

      Transportation has been of such basic importance to Canadian economic history that the title of this paper may appear redundant and inclusive. The paper is intended, however, as an attempt to consider the general position of transportation in Canada, with special relation to its peculiar characteristics and their relationships to Canadian development, rather than to present a brief survey of Canadian economic history.

      The early development of North America was dependent on the evolution of ships adapted to crossing the Atlantic. Water transportation, which had been of first importance in the growth of European civilization, had improved to the extent...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Unused Capacity as a Factor in Canadian Economic History
      (pp. 139-154)

      The significance of navigation in the economic development of a region penetrated by the St Lawrence to the south and by Hudson Bay to the north has been evident in concentration on production of raw materials for consumption in the highly industrialized area of Europe,¹ and in problems which have arisen with intense specialization, such as unused capacity in terms of vessel space as a result of inability to secure a balanced two-way cargo. The green fishery as conducted from French ports on the banks and along the coast required heavy outbound cargoes of salt to balance return cargoes of...

    • CHAPTER NINE Commerce and Industry in Canadian Economic Development, 1760—1935
      (pp. 155-165)

      Writing at the end of a long period of rapid expansion in the English colonies and at a time when such expansion threatened imminent revolt, Adam Smith concluded that “Plenty of good land, and liberty to manage their own affairs their own way, seem to be the two great causes of the prosperity of all new colonies.”¹ The second cause was elaborated at great length. The colonies of England conducted their governments upon a much less expensive plan and with a much less expensive ceremonial than those of France, Portugal, and Spain. The colonies of the latter countries had even...

    • CHAPTER TEN The Place of Land in North American Federations
      (pp. 166-177)

      Professor Hedge’s volume is the most recent of a number of studies on the administration of land in Canada¹ and the United States, and the opportunity to review his book suggests a discussion of the significance of land in American economic and political development. It was a thesis of the late Professor Max Handman² that the impact of Spanish and Portuguese feudalism on the highly developed Indian civilization of Central and South America brought concentration on imports of precious metals to Europe and the transfer of feudal institutions to America with their emphasis on military conquest and land. In contrast,...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Organized Labour and Living Standards in Canadian Economic History
      (pp. 178-202)

      Organization of farmers and labour thrives on achievement and emerges in industries and regions providing a suitable environment for the formation of associations and during periods in which wages can be increased or maintained by pressure. They have necessarily been less concerned with industries and regions in which organization has been restricted and in which standards of living are on a lower level and subject to wider fluctuations. Studies of these standards are being published elsewhere.¹

      The European economy first touched North America in the development of the fishing industry in the maritime regions, an industry characterized by the mobility...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE The Economics of Conservation
      (pp. 203-208)

      The spate of literature¹ on conservation in the United States issuing from federal departments and from publishing houses and written by authors or groups of authors ranging from the expert to the popularizer is a reflection of the growth of nationalism² during the depression. The attractive appearance of much of the material has been a result of improved technique of communication and more efficient propaganda. “The Plough That Broke the Plains” is a significant motion picture. Apologists have written of the interest in conservation as part of a long-run secular trend, in which natural resources have been depleted, that has...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Economic Nationalism
      (pp. 211-224)

      This paper cannot do more than pretend to indicate the drift of economic nationalism and it must remain content with an outline of the indications which seem to point in a certain direction. I shall proceed from the following conclusion of a careful student of subject:

      Peculiarly basic has been the development of large scale machine industry, with the impetus it has afforded to the growth of middle class and proletariat, to the improvement of means of transportation and communication and to the rivalry of peoples for economic advantage. In the main nationalism has flourished most abundantly in national states...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Canadian Economy and the Depression
      (pp. 225-231)

      The papers in this volume are concerned with the immediate problems of the depression in Canada, but they are also intended to suggest the importance of problems peculiar to the secular trend which have accentuated the decline characteristic of the business cycle. The type of expansion which has characterized this century, namely, railroad construction and the opening of the West, the installation of hydro-electric power and pulp and paper plants, the development of mines and the construction of roads and hotels which have accompanied the increasing use of motor transport, will very materially decline. While the readjustment in economic life...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Some Problems of Adjustment in Canada
      (pp. 232-240)

      In the volumes reviewed in the October number of thisJournal,¹Professor W.A. Mackintosh raises problems of fundamental importance to the Canadian economy which warrant emphasis and comment. He expresses the hope that the whole series of studies “will make some contribution toward the development of economic and social planning in a field where the costs of planless development are peculiarly heavy.” “The need for the systematic planning and control of settlements, if heavy financial and human costs are to be avoided, is likely to be greater in the future than it has been in the past.” The problems of...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN “For the People”: The Intellectual State of Canada
      (pp. 241-250)

      That “insidious and crafty animal vulgarly called a statesman or politician” - the description is Adam Smith’s - knows the necessity of appearing intellectual if he is to capture votes. This fact has already been noticed in theQuarterly(for April 1934) in a review of lectures delivered to political summer schools. As the federal election approached, this necessity became more urgent, and an appeal to books was sustained. Commenting in parliament on Mr Bennett’s program as outlined in the radio-broadcast of January (1935), Mr King retaliated by a recital of his own long and sustained activity in the interests...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Rowell-Sirois Report
      (pp. 251-261)

      Three large volumes and a large number of appendices were presented to the Prime Minister on 3 May 1940, by a Royal Commission appointed on 14 August 1937 at the request of the Prime Minister “with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice.” The Commissioners apparently regarded themselves, however, as subject to instructions from the Department of Finance.¹ The Royal Commission included Commissioners acceptable to a government controlled by the Liberal Party, and representing five regions.

      The Commission planned to secure the cooperation of the governments of the separate provinces in the presentation of briefs...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Recent Trends in Canadian-American Relations
      (pp. 262-270)

      The general argument of this paper is to the effect that American policies are destined to affect the policies of Canada, and the policies of North America as a whole, to an increasing extent, and that it is to the interest of all concerned that the probable effects of American policies on Canada should be considered before they are finally formulated.

      It is significant that I should be asked by an American committee of arrangement to prepare a paper of a popular character on economic trends in Canadian-American relations. A Canadian committee would, I hope, have been less certain about...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Great Britain, the United States, and Canada
      (pp. 271-289)

      Canadians have reason to remember industrial cities in the Midlands for their protests against the imposition of a protective tariff in Canada in 1858 and later dates, following the introduction of free trade in England in the forties. Free trade was accompanied by factory legislation at home and by protective tariffs in the colonies. Thorold Rogers wrote that “a protective tariff is to all intents and purposes an act of war,”¹ and its introduction in Canada undoubtedly appeared to Nottingham and other cities as an act of war on the part of the colonies against the mother country. The complaints...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY Business and Government
      (pp. 290-294)

      This title suggests a sharp division between the two subjects and compels a discussion at the beginning of its background. If we adopt the British tradition of the absolute supremacy of parliament, it will not be possible to claim the existence of a sharp division whereas the American tradition specifies a constitution in which encroachments on common law are definitely checked. For this reason business and government can be regarded as separate entities. It would be surprising if American influence was not evident in Canada. One can cite not only the title of the subject which has been assigned to...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE On the Economic Significance of Cultural Factors
      (pp. 297-315)

      In discussing the limitations of economic history or of the social sciences or more specifically of the framework of the price system, we can improve our perspective regarding the place of the field of economic history and in turn of the social sciences in Western civilization. We need a sociology or a philosophy of the social sciences and particularly of economics, an economic history of knowledge or an economic history of economic history. Economic history may enable us to understand the background of economic thought or of the organization of economic thought or of thought in the social sciences. The...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Industrialism and Cultural Values
      (pp. 316-324)

      We must all be aware of the extraordinary, perhaps insuperable, difficulty of assessing the quality of a culture of which we are a part or of assessing the quality of a culture of which we are not a part. In using other cultures as mirrors in which we may see our own culture we are affected by the astigma of our own eyesight and the defects of the mirror, with the result that we are apt to see nothing in other cultures but the virtues of our own. During the twentieth century machine industry has made it possible to amass...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE The Bias of Communication
      (pp. 325-349)

      The appearance of a wide range of cultural phenomena at different periods in the history of Western civilization has been described by Professor A.L. Kroeber inConfigurations of Cultural Growth(Berkeley, 1946). He makes suggestive comments at various points to explain the relative strength or weakness of cultural elements but refrains from extended discussion. I do not propose to do more than add a footnote to these comments and in this to discuss the possible significance of communication to the rise and decline of cultural traits. A medium of communication has an important influence on the dissemination of knowledge over...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR The Mechanization of Knowledge
      (pp. 350-355)

      Mechanization has emphasized complexity and confusion; it has been responsible for monopolies in the field of knowledge; and it becomes extremely important to any civilization, if it is not to succumb to the influence of this monopoly of knowledge, to make some critical survey and report. The conditions of freedom of thought are in danger of being destroyed by science, technology, and the mechanization of knowledge, and with them, Western civilization.

      My bias is with the oral tradition, particularly as reflected in Greek civilization,¹ and with the necessity of recapturing something of its spirit. For that purpose we should try...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE A Plea for Time
      (pp. 356-383)

      I must plead the bias of my special interest in the title of this paper. Economic historians and indeed all historians assume a time factor and their assumptions reflect the attitude towards time of the period in which they write. History in the modern sense is about four centuries old¹ but the word has taken on meanings which are apt to check a concern with facts other than those of immediate interest and its content is apt to reflect an interest in immediate facts such as is suggested by the words “all history proves.” As a result history tends to...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX The Concept of Monopoly and Civilization
      (pp. 384-389)

      I am taking advantage of this opportunity to put before you questions which have worried me in research on the character of civilizations¹ and to solicit your advice. I have been concerned with the possible extension of concepts in the special field of economics and in particular the concept of monopoly, notably in knowledge. Since the First World War the study of civilization has been threatened by two monopolies, the first in Germany represented by Spengler, and the second in Great Britain or possibly the English-speaking world represented by Prof. A.J. Toynbee.

      In the United States Sorokin, a Russian exile,...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN The Problem of Space
      (pp. 390-426)

      “Space and time, and also their space-time product, fall into their places as mere mental frameworks of our own constitution.”¹ Gauss held that whereas number was a product of the mind, space had a reality outside the mind whose laws cannot be describeda priori.In the history of thought, especially of mathematics, Cassirer remarked, “at times, the concept of space, at other times, the concept of numbers, took the lead.”²

      A concern with problems of space and time appears to have marked the beginnings of civilization in Egypt and Mesopotamia. A change from a pre-dynastic to a dynastic society,...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT The Role of the Social Scientist
      (pp. 429-437)

      The disquieting character of the conclusions of two articles in the first number of theCanadian Journal of Economics and Political Scienceby the heads of the two largest Departments of Political Science and Economics in Canada, and of the point of view of Professor Knight,¹ the author of the first article, warrants further consideration. Alert to the dangers of rushing in where older economists fear to tread and of the prospect of being exposed to the psychoanalyst - who will point to the two articles as representative of age and maturity in a major depression after a world war...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE The Passing of Political Economy
      (pp. 438-442)

      In 1937 there was published by Prof. W.R. Scott, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy in the University of Glasgow, a volume calledAdam Smith as Student and Professordedicated “to my colleagues in the court and senate of the University of Glasgow on the two hundredth anniversary of Adam Smith’s matriculation there.” Singularly in a request to write an article for theCommerceJournal it was suggested that I should write not on that event but rather on some practical matter such as the Royal Commission on Dominion Provincial relations which would be of interest to businessmen as readers...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY The “Common Man” and Internationalism: Myths in the Social Sciences
      (pp. 443-445)

      Failure to persist in the difficult task of attempting to understand the significance of the position of the “common man” has led the social scientist into strange paths. Internationalism has been a favourite fetish and has provided a theme for a large part of our oratorical and economic literature as a reference to world markets for wheat, fish, lumber, pulp and paper, and minerals will suggest. The League of Nations, the British Empire, Canadian-American relations are variants. There has been much said about the great role Canadians play in these matters. Toasts to a hundred years of peace, 3,000 miles...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE The Intellectual in History
      (pp. 446-458)

      For a brief period I shall attempt to appear before you as an economist bewildered by the extent and range of discussion which deals in a final form with the problems of a subject in which he is particularly interested. It may seem strange that an economist should appear before you to admit that he does not see the answer to these problems, and I shall plead in extenuation that I am addressing a university audience interested in the pursuit of truth and in certain standards of intellectual integrity and honesty. This may be a bold assumption. But even universities,...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO The Church in Canada
      (pp. 459-470)

      Modern civilization, characterized by an enormous increase in the output of mechanized knowledge with the newspaper, the book, the radio, and the cinema, has produced a state of numbness, pleasure, and self-complacency perhaps only equalled by laughing-gas. In the words of Oscar Wilde, we have sold our birthright for a mess of facts. The demands of the machine are insatiable. The danger of shaking men out of the soporific results of mechanized knowledge is similar to that of attempting to arouse a drunken man or one who has taken an overdose of sleeping tablets. The necessary violent measures will be...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE Adult Education and Universities
      (pp. 471-481)

      The Manitoba Royal Commission on Adult Education has been concerned with the problem of adult education in relation to government and the dangers of propaganda. Propaganda has been described as “that branch of the art of lying which consists in very nearly deceiving your friends without quite deceiving your enemies”;¹ unfortunately in a bureaucracy it effectively deceives the vast majority of people who are neither friends nor enemies. We have assumed that government in democratic countries is based on the will of the governed, that people can make up their minds, and that every encouragement should be given to enable...

    • CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR Democracy and the Free City
      (pp. 482-486)

      Mr Chairman, Gentlemen, and friends. I am very grateful for the honour of being asked to speak at your annual meeting and for the opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the work of your organizations and of Dr Brittain. It is a work of deep concern not only to this city and to other cities in Canada but also to modern democracies and western civilization. I know of no more crucial problem in responsible government than that of governing cities. The solution of the problems of democratic government rests in the cities.

      It will be unnecessary to emphasize the significance...

  10. Index
    (pp. 487-506)