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Life After Growth: How the global economy really works - and why 200 years of growth are over by Tim Morgan

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Chapter 4: The Great Breakthroughs

PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD, THE HISTORY of the economy is ‘a tale of two breakthroughs’, each of which moved society forwards by creating a quantum leap in the amount of surplus energy available. Familiarity with these breakthroughs is highly desirable because it reinforces our understanding of the real nature of the economy. The search for greater quantities of surplus energy is the theme which informs both of these breakthroughs, and indeed explains the evolution of society and the economy.

The development of society and of the economy is, in reality, a story of how mankind overcame the limitations imposed by the energy equation. In the pre-agrarian, hunter-gatherer era (which lasted for at least 40,000 years), ...

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