The development of any country in the world is highly dependent on such an economic sector as agriculture. It would be wrong to assume that it plays the role of exclusively the sphere of providing the population with foodstuffs. After all, all the achievements of the scientific and technological progress of this state are concentrated in it. Therefore, qualitative leaps in the state of agriculture, which are essentially agrarian revolutions, are objectively conditioned by the historical laws of the development of human civilization.
Over the entire period of human civilization, there have been several agrarian revolutions, which today are clearly recorded in historical documents. These spasmodic processes were completely subordinated to the general trends in the economic development of public and state formations of their time. Therefore, this aspect of the evolution of human relations is of particular value from the point of view of the formation of an understanding of the basic laws of its development.
At the common point of view, it may seem that the very concept of "revolution" can in no way be associated with such a trivial and ordinary area of the economy as agriculture. After all, this natural type of activity implies only the appropriate management of natural, natural resources, far from the process of the struggle for power and state domination. However, one should not forget that the socio-political aspect, which is fully subject to revolutionary changes, depends, among other things, on the state of agriculture.
This dependence is due to similar processes taking place in the social structure and the agrarian complex, because it is characterized by the same profound and rapid transformations as in other areas of the economy. Moreover, the spasmodic nature of agrarian revolutions, implying a fairly limited time frame, fully corresponds to the general principles of dialectical thinking based on the transformation of quantity into quality.
Conditions for the agrarian revolution
Any agrarian revolution becomes possible only if certain conditions are met. The following signs can be considered as such characteristic signs of this economic phenomenon:
- the establishment of such relations of production, which can be called "stable capitalist";
- liquidation of small farms and the formation of large agricultural enterprises in their place;
- full focus on commodity production;
- transfer of ownership of land to large owners;
- a dynamic increase in the volume of agricultural production;
- the use of hired labor;
- introduction of high-tech production methods (land reclamation, fertilizers, etc.);
- breeding new and more productive varieties of plants and animal breeds with higher quality parameters;
- the use of modern and high-tech tools.
Agrarian revolutions are always accompanied by a pronounced intensification of agricultural production. Moreover, in this case, increased indicators become possible not due to an increase in the area of land or livestock, but solely due to the introduction of modern achievements of science and technology into the agricultural economy.
Historical data on agrarian revolutions
During the entire existence of human civilization, the following agrarian revolutions can be noted:
- Neolithic (10 thousand years ago);
- Islamic (10th century AD);
- British (18th century);
- "green" (20th century).
The Neolithic Agrarian Revolution was caused by the transition from collecting wild fruits and hunting animals to plant growing and animal husbandry. This change in the approach of food stocks has been accompanied by the selection of various varieties of cereals, including wheat, rice and barley. At the same time, the process of domestication of wild animals and breeding of livestock breeds took place. According to the scientific community, such transformations in the natural economy were most clearly expressed in seven regions on the planet. Among them, the first to be noted is the Middle East.
The Islamic agrarian revolution touched upon the basic reforms in the agriculture of the Arab Caliphate. This was due to advances in the natural and biological sciences. Modern scientists have accurately recorded the global processes associated with the selection of the main plant crops suitable for food for people, taking place during this period of time.
The British agrarian revolution is characterized primarily by the powerful introduction of new technologies and the creation of effective methods for fertilizing the soil of land. According to some scholars' estimates, the period of the 18th century may also imply a parallel course of the Scottish Agrarian Revolution.
This historical era for the European economy was distinguished by the fact that the bulk of the population (up to 80%) was directly related to agriculture. And constant wars, epidemics of diseases and low productivity of grain crops, characteristic of the last centuries (16-18 centuries), led to large-scale famine and unbearable tax burdens on farmers. So, in France in the 16th century there were 13 years of famine, in the 17th century the country experienced 11 difficult years, and in the 18th century - 16 years. And these statistics do not take into account various local disasters. Historical records of the time point to the numerous deaths of an impoverished population in Venice in the 17th century. And in Finland, in the period 1696-1697, a third of the country's inhabitants died of hunger.
These tragic events could not lead to a global reconstruction of the agricultural economy in order to exclude such a deplorable situation in terms of providing food to the population of Europe. This agrarian revolution led to the following transformations:
- replacement of 2-3 crop rotations with grass seeding and fruit changes (exclusion from the practice of leaving up to ½ part of arable land "fallow");
- the use of land reclamation (drainage and calcareous soils);
- the use of fertilizers;
- the introduction of agricultural machinery.
It was the English farmers who were the first to apply the Norfolk crop rotation, which contributes to a significant increase in the yield of wheat, barley, clover, and turnip. And new geographical discoveries began to fully contribute to the introduction of new types of plant crops into agriculture, including pumpkin, tomatoes, sunflowers, tobacco and others.
Farmers began to use such a crop rotation, which implied the alternation of cereals with plants that enrich the soil with nitrogen (turnips, beans, peas, clover). Potatoes, corn and buckwheat were introduced into the practice of growing agricultural crops in the 18th century in Europe. It was these crops that were distinguished by high yields and saved the poorest segments of the population from hunger.
It should be noted that in Europe of this period there was a crisis of land relations, which was associated with the withering away of the feudal social formation. Then in the village there were two options for the development of thematic events. The first concerned mainly England, in which most of the land was concentrated in the hands of large owners, which was associated with the deprivation of the peasantry of their land in the process of the so-called. "Enclosures" that took place during the 15-17 centuries. In this case, landlords leased land to large farmers who were able to cultivate it using the hired labor of rural workers.
The second scenario for the development of agricultural capitalism was based on the transformation of peasant agriculture from two types (small and large) into a hybrid form, which implied the use of hired labor by small owners who were unable to feed themselves independently, by the prosperous peasant "top". Thus, the economic division of the peasant stratum of the population into two polar parts in most of Europe (Germany, Italy and other countries) preceded the objective enlargement of farms.
The last agrarian revolution took place in the middle of the 20th century. The following factors have become its distinctive features:
- the use of modern chemical fertilizers and pesticides that protect crops from insect pests;
- selection of new varieties of agricultural plants;
- introduction of modern high-tech equipment into the agricultural sector.
According to the world scientific community, it was the threat of overpopulation of the planet that caused the new agrarian revolution. Indeed, the sharp increase in the need for food products has especially affected such densely populated developing countries as India, China, Mexico, Colombia, etc. Simultaneously with the increase in the productivity of the agro-industrial complex after the implementation of the "green" revolution, mankind is faced with the reverse side of this process. After all, the use of chemicals directly affected the ecological purity of food.