** Scottish economy

Scotland: Economy

Figure 1.--This is a scene in Fife (north of Edinburgh) during the 1930s. British agriculture was just begimming to mechanize after World War I, but was the most mecahnized agricultural ecomomy in Europe-except the Soviet Union. (Stalin inmtroduced tractors as part of collectivization. but because he murdered many of the best farmers in the country, harvests actually declined.) Ths photograph in Scotland was taken about the same time that Stalin was murdering the kulaks and Ukranian peasantry. This photograph reminds us of 'All Creatures Great and Small'. Farm amimals were vital to English and Scottish agriculture until after World War II.

The economic history of Scotland begins with the arrival of neolithic humans after the last Ice Age (about 8,500 BC). Some idea can be pieced together from th the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age arifacts found by archeologists. Written accounts begin with the arrival of the Roman Empire (1st century AD). It is at this time modern Scotland began to form, the Romans called it Caledonia. Economic life began to differ between the Roman controlled areas and the area to the north beyond Roman control. Accounts are very limited. The traditional view is that the Picts and other northern tribes were primitive and unwilling or unable to adopt the modern technology brought by the Romans. Some historians argue that the ancient Scotts were more adaptable and advanced than has been thought. One fact is increasingly clear, sea trade was very important to the Scottish economy. This became increasingly important as naval technology improved. England which with the arrival of the Normans became increasingly hostile, blocked land links with Europe. But this is less significant than it may seem. Land transport into modern times was promitive. Trade was conducted by sea. An eastern Scotland faces the Norh sea which provided access to Sandanavia and more importantly the Baltic and the active Hanseatic League traders as well as the Low Countries which became the driving force of the late-Medevial economy. To the west, there was access to Ireland and France. Of course in medieval Europe it was land and agriculyure that was the porimary source of wealth. Not often reported is that Scottis land tenancy deprived the peasantry (agricultural workers) to almost all rights, not only less that the English peasantry, but even the Irish Catholic peasantry. [MacKillop] After interminable distructive wars with England, the Act of Union joined the two countries (1707). From the beginning Scots were poorer than their English compatriots. Enormous changes followed. It led go the deredful Higland Clearances and supression of the Clans. A significant outward migration followed. This provuded access to the developing English empire as well as participation in the Industrial Revolution. As a result, of the industrial development and Scottish Enlightenment, formerly agricultural Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. The driving force here was capitalism and it was notably a Scott, Adam Smith that provided the first clear explanation of capitalism, ironically in the same year the American Recolution broke out (1776). [Smith] The Industrial Revolution led to an explosioin of wealth. There were also social problemns with slums developing in the major cities. Photographer Thoma Annan documented the Hlashow slums. The reliance on smokestack industries and the swing to socialism led to an economic decline following World War II. This has significantly affected both Scotland and northern England. Income levels declined substantially below that of southern England. Scotland in recent years beginning with the Thatcher years has begun to develop a more modern economy leading to a cultural and economic renaissance. Important secgtirs emerging have been financial services sector resulting in large measure from North Sea oil and gas development. Adding to the economic changes has been a devolved parliament. The economic future of Scotland is an open question. Many Scotts like other Europeans have been influenced by an almost religious devotion to socialism. Britain as a whole is now having to adjust to consequences of Socialist Kenysian economics. It is unclear wht the futre holds.


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Created: 1:54 AM 6/1/2020
Last updated: 1:54 AM 6/1/2020