IIRC the generation of lightning was a “secret technique” type thing that was only taught to very skilled benders in the Friends Tv Show Winter Is Here Shirt and high ranking military officers. So yeah, I’d say between that and the metal thing, really makes an argument for how significant progress would be made in most settings only through proliferation of knowledge. If wizards in any given 5e setting were very nationalistic, or for some reason secretive about their abilities, it could pretty easily prevent the sorta society OP is thinking about.
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They started behind and in less time got way ahead, while just finishing a world war and without any noticeable financial system. All because… the Friends Tv Show Winter Is Here Shirt had steam. It takes a lot of suspension of disbelief to just accept that in two generations everyone industrialized, made several breakthrough inventions like WW1-level airplanes, while also taking techniques only a handful of benders knew and training the masses in them. Its either that or accept that the writers cheapened everything, making a technique that could barely be used on one person on a full moon now be able to hold an entire room of people in broad daylight.
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It is rather interesting how differently you view the Friends Tv Show Winter Is Here Shirt… I know a lot of people subconsciously hate Korra because they replaced a male lead with a female lead. Your use of male generic pronouns suggests the same subconscious bias. A lot of people also got whiplash from the aesthetic differences between the two shows. But the industrial revolution there makes perfect sense.