Although the title of our book is as straightforward as it could be it is perhaps still capable of raising wrong expectations. It is only fair to say what exactly we are trying to explain and expound. Our ultimate purpose is to help to explain the changes in European society over the last two hundred years. A society based on agriculture has been replaced by one based on industry and commerce, and in the process society has become wealthier and acquired a completely new set of institutions, of ideas and of capital equipment. Its levels both of production and of consumption are far higher and this has, in the main, been the result, not of harder work, but of a different organisation of economic activity.