potato blight only 25 years before the famines that Davis discusses.
Further, Woodham-Smith sees laissez-faire as dominant in the Irish situation
as well. "The influence of laissez-faire on the treatment of Ireland
during the famine is impossible to exaggerate."54 Therefore,
if any famine outside of Davis' period of analysis can be expected to
fit his model, it would seem to be the Irish potato blight.
Recall that his first point of articulation is that local farmers are
forced to stop producing subsistence crops directly, and must instead
produce cash crops and exchange them for food through the market system.
They must do this, contends Davis, because they have a better chance
of meeting subsistence goals by attempting to farm higher per acre yield
crops (which cash crops tended to be.)
This point does not hold true for the small farmers of the Irish famine.
Indeed, the fact is that in Ireland, the potato was the highest-yield
crop available, and also the best adapted to the Irish growing conditions
and geography. At the same time, the potato was both a cash and subsistence
crop. The Irish who were most affected by the blight were not those
who depended upon market forces and cash crop exchange for their means
of subsistence. They were the people who depended directly upon the
potatoes that they grew on their own land. They were also not integrated
into the market in such a way as to make Davis' first point of articulation
valid for Ireland.
Davis' second point of articulation for the increase of vulnerability
to famine is that as small farmers are integrated into the world market,
they find that the price their goods can command consistently sinks,
and that therefore they must enter debt simply to survive. Again, this
prospect does not hold true for Ireland. The people most affected by
the famine were those