August 01, 2012
The Real Reason for Germany's Industrial Expansion? No copyright law
Did Germany experience rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century due to an absence of copyright law? A German historian argues that the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, laid the foundation for the country's industrial might.
Frank Thadeusz in Der Spiegel:
The entire country seemed to be obsessed with reading. The sudden passion for books struck even booksellers as strange and in 1836 led literary critic Wolfgang Menzel to declare Germans "a people of poets and thinkers."
"That famous phrase is completely misconstrued," declares economic historian Eckhard Höffner, 44. "It refers not to literary greats such as Goethe and Schiller," he explains, "but to the fact that an incomparable mass of reading material was being produced in Germany."
Höffner has researched that early heyday of printed material in Germany and reached a surprising conclusion -- unlike neighboring England and France, Germany experienced an unparalleled explosion of knowledge in the 19th century.
German authors during this period wrote ceaselessly. Around 14,000 new publications appeared in a single year in 1843. Measured against population numbers at the time, this reaches nearly today's level. And although novels were published as well, the majority of the works were academic papers.
The situation in England was very different. "For the period of the Enlightenment and bourgeois emancipation, we see deplorable progress in Great Britain," Höffner states.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 07:52 AM | Permalink