‘Five hundred lashes and double irons: the origins of Australian capitalism‘, Marxist Left Review, 5, Summer 2013
Thoroughly researched and theoretically grounded view of the first 30 years of the colony of New South Wales.
A state-run prison with capitalist features was transforming itself [the authors conclude after examining these three early decades] into a full-blown capitalist society in eastern Australia. Macquarie had still relied heavily on subsistence agriculture and subsidised infrastructure development. Now the private sector began to grow more rapidly and the relative power of the state declined. Greater use of assignment “privatised” the convict system; deregulation of British shipping allowed more vessels to trade in Sydney and helped boost local business. Transportation of convicts was rapidly increasing, which helped maintain a temporary check on the emancipists’ political claims. But more and more free immigrants were also being lured to the colony. Pastoralism, agriculture, commerce, construction, mining and manufacturing – each in varying degrees was contributing to economic growth. The profit motive had taken command.
A more conventional resource on the convict system: ten useful websites.