Make The Modern World

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Everywhere the people demanded the right to rule themselves. Although the nationalist revolutions of were defeated by the political establishment, the sentiments themselves were impossible to control. Across Europe an increasingly prosperous middle-class demanded inclusion in the political system and their demands were increasingly expressed through the language of nationalism.

The Finns wanted an independent Finland; the Bulgarians an independent Bulgaria; the Serbs an independent Serbia, and so on. In Italy too — long divided into separate city-states and dominated by the Church — became a unified country and an independent nation. Yet it was only with the conclusion of the First World War in that self-determination was acknowledged as a right. After the First World War most people in Europe formed their own nation-states.

That is, while the Westphalian system concerned relations between states, world affairs in the nineteenth century increasingly came to concern relations between nation-states. In most respects, however, the inter-national system continued to operate in much the same fashion as the Westphalian inter-state system.

Nation-states claimed the same right to sovereignty which meant that they were formally equal to each other. Together, they interacted in an anarchical system in which power was decentralised and wars were a constant threat. Yet, the addition of the nation changed the nature of the interaction in crucial ways.

For one thing, leaders who ruled their countries without at least the tacit support of their national communities were increasingly seen as illegitimate. This also meant that newly created nation-states such as Italy and Germany were automatically regarded as legitimate members of the European community of nations. They were legitimate since the people, in theory at least, were in charge.

There were also new hopes for world peace. While kings wage war for the sake of glory or personal gain, a people is believed to be more attuned to the aspirations of another people. For some considerable time, these assumptions seemed quite feasible. The nineteenth century — or, more accurately, the period from to — was indeed an uncharacteristically peaceful period in European history. At the time, great hopes were associated with the increase in trade. As Adam Smith pointed out in The Wealth of Nations , a nation is rich not because it has a lot of natural resources but because it has the capacity to manufacture things that others want.

In order to capitalise on this capacity, you need to trade and the more you trade the wealthier you are likely to become. In a world in which everyone is busy trading with each other, no one can afford to go to war. By the twentieth century most of these liberal hopes were dashed. As the First World War demonstrated, nation-states could be as violent as the early-modern states.

In fact, nation-states were far more lethal, not least since they were able to involve their entire population in the war effort together with the entirety of its shared resources. The peaceful quest for profits and market shares had not replaced the anxious quest for security or the aggressive quest for pre-eminence. Between and over 60 million people were killed — around 2.

This figure included the six million Jews exterminated by Germany in the Holocaust, which was one of the worst genocides in recorded history. Most of what happened in Europe before the nineteenth century was of great concern to the Europeans but of only marginal relevance to people elsewhere. Europe certainly had a significant impact on the Americas, North and South. However, it had far less impact on Asia and relations with Africa were largely restricted to a few trading ports.

The large, rich and powerful empires of East Asia were organised quite differently than the European states, and international politics followed different principles. The same can be said for other parts of the world such as the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world. And yet, it was the European model of statehood and the European way of organising international relations that eventually came to organise all of world politics.

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As previously mentioned, trade was an important source of revenue for states in early modern Europe, and no trade was more lucrative than the trade with East Asia. Europeans had developed a taste for East Asian goods already in the Middle Ages — for spices above all, but also for silk and other exotic commodities. During the Mongol Empire, —, much of the vast stretch of the Eurasian landmass was unified under one set of rulers and it was easy to obtain goods via the great caravan routes which criss-crossed Asia.

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When the Mongol Empire fell, overland trade became more insecure and the Europeans began looking for ways to get to East Asia by sea. It was when Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, at the southernmost tip of Africa, in that the Europeans for the first time discovered a direct way to travel by sea to East Asia.

The Portuguese took the lead in this trade, but they were soon replaced by the Dutch, and above all, by the Dutch East India Company, founded in All over Europe similar trading companies were soon established and they were all granted monopolies on the highly profitable East Asian trade. These monopolies were sold to the highest bidder, and for European kings this was an easy and quick way to raise revenue.

The Europeans who came back from travels in East Asia were amazed at the wondrous things they had seen. East Asian kings, they reported, were far richer and more powerful than European rulers. Europe seemed a provincial backwater compared to the centres of civilisation they had stumbled upon. From an East Asian point of view, however, the Europeans were nothing but a small contingent of traders who docked at a few ports, conducted their trade, and then left. Yet, the increase in trade which the opening of new trade routes produced was nevertheless important to the countries of East Asia.

In order to facilitate commerce, various European trading companies were given the right to establish small trading posts. In the Americas, the Europeans were far more ruthless. The Spanish conquered the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas in Peru and gradually took over the bulk of the continent.

The European invasion was associated with widespread genocide. In South America many natives died as a result of being overworked in mines and plantations and in North America the European settlers made outright war on the natives. Yet in both North and South America the largest number of natives died through exposure to European diseases such as the measles. Africa, meanwhile, remained largely unknown to the Europeans. It was only in the nineteenth century that relations between Europe and the rest of the world were irrevocably transformed. The reason is above all to be found in economic changes taking place in Europe itself.

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At the end of the eighteenth century, new ways of manufacturing goods were invented which made use of machines powered by steam, and later by electricity, which made it possible to engage in large-scale factory production. As cheap, mass-produced goods flooded European markets, the Europeans began looking for new markets overseas. They also needed raw material for their factories, which in many cases only could be found outside of Europe.

These economic imperatives meant that the Europeans took a renewed interest in world trade. This time it was the British who took the lead. It was in Britain that the industrial revolution had started and the British, an island nation with a long history of international commerce, had a navy second to none.

Before long they had established commercial outposts from Canada to South Africa and Australia, but it was India that became the most important colony. The commercial outposts and colonial settlements soon grew in size as the British sought to protect their economic investments by means of military force. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, other European countries joined in this scramble for colonies, not least in Africa. France added West Africa and Indochina to its growing empire, and the Germans and Italians also joined the race once their respective countries were unified. This explains how, by the time of the First World War in , most parts of the world were in European hands.

There were some exceptions to this rule — China, Japan, Siam, Persia, Ethiopia and Nepal, among others — but even in these ostensibly independent countries the Europeans had a strong presence. But this was not how the European state and the European way of organising international relations came to spread to the rest of the world, at least not directly. After all, a colonised country is the very opposite of a sovereign state; the colonised peoples had no nation-states and enjoyed no self-determination.

It was instead through the process of liberating themselves from the colonisers that the European models were copied. Since the Europeans only would grant sovereignty to states that were similar to their own, the only way to become independent was to become independent on European terms. To create such Europe-like states was thus the project in which all non-European political leaders engaged.

Once they finally made themselves independent in the decades after the Second World War, as an international climate of decolonisation took hold, all new states had a familiar form.

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They had their respective territories and fortified borders; their own capitals, armies, foreign ministries, flags, national anthems and all the other paraphernalia of European statehood. It is more important, however, to recognise that the prominence of war and economic protection or monopolization meant that the characteristics of that earlier age were very different from, and the process of globalization was largely driven by forces unlike, those that Ferguson suggests operated during the British-dominated phase of globalization after From then onwards Ferguson seems to allow that the global accumulation of wealth was promoted only by an increasing absence of restraint on the movement of people labour migration , the flow of capital external investment , and produce from land overseas commerce.

This argument is unpersuasive because it ignores the role of war, economic protection, and strategic calculation, persisting from that earlier period, in the continuing growth of a global economy. This last observation directs us not only to the compatibility of continuing globalization with partially-closed economies, but also to the limitations of free trade arrangements historically associated with the pursuit of an open global economy.

Contrary to much current thinking, Ferguson wishes us to accept that the priority attached by Britain to free trade, free labour migration, and unfettered capital movements, was beneficial to Britain itself, to its empire, and to the world at large. It can surely be argued that this simple standard requires a more critical consideration than Ferguson ever suggests that it might need. Two points are fundamental. First, it is surely necessary to bear in mind that the pattern of free trade, particularly in the form of unlimited exchange of foodstuffs and raw materials for manufactured capital and consumer goods, generally operates over any significant period of time to the decided disadvantage of commodity producers.

The second follows from that: free trade cannot necessarily be equated with freedom of choice and opportunity. For example, the time at which any territory is drawn through the opening up of its trade into the globalizing economy can have a critical impact on its future development. The great variety of combinations of climate, geographical position, and natural endowment of resources, inevitably mean that each territory may be more or less well-placed to find its own niche in the range of economic openings prevailing at any one time.

The fascinating story behind the Mongol Empire

Hence, as Donald Denoon demonstrated in his Settler Capitalism Clarendon; Oxford, , temperate lands of white settlement, faced with exclusion from industrial and manufacturing options, not only evolved their own forms of capitalism but did so largely irrespective of their colonial or independent status. Moreover the distribution of any gains within individual states was often not directed to equalizing incomes. However, the reality of the imperialism of free trade that underlay this option was far more constraining and less benign than Ferguson seems to acknowledge.

A last comment relates still more directly to the persistent issue of costs and benefits. Stark intellectual polarities, however, can be a snare and delusion especially in the history of empire, so riddled as it is with complexities and ambiguity. In seeking to argue that the empire was not economically bad for both Britain and her colonies, Ferguson sets up an Aunt Sally no less grand and vulnerable than that constructed by some of the historians he criticises. Its messages have nonetheless not been taken heed of here. It would have integrated rather than just tolerated IPE.

It would have rediscovered its links to International Law and Sociology.

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How much further should the affluent world push its material consumption? Does relative dematerialization lead to absolute decline in demand for materials?. Editorial Reviews. Review. “Vaclav Smil keeps turning out amazing books. Making the Modern World, I just finished, and it's pretty fantastic.” (Interview with Bill.

It would have put Political Science into its place as merely one of its constitutive disciplines, and at the same time given equal weight to its ties to World History, Economic History, and Historical Sociology. By taking these steps, IR would have set itself up to become the intellectual space in which synthesising debates across the social sciences could take place.

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By supporting the Reformation, they could free themselves from the power of Rome. People suffering what is now known as Down's syndrome , which can cause mental retardation, were characterized as having physical facial features like Mongols, and were described as "arrested children". More information about collection object. Yet, as we will see, it was only when the colonised countries became independent in the twentieth century that the European state and the European way of organising international relations finally became the universal norm. Over the course of the years there have been many different kinds of states, yet this chapter is mainly concerned with the European state and with European developments.

By industrialization we mean both the commercialization of agriculture and the two-stage industrial revolution, which together both shrank the planet and generated an intensely connected system of global capitalism. The extension of capitalism brought new opportunities for accumulating power, not least because of the close relationship between industrialization and dispossession. Indeed, industrialization in some places such as Britain was deeply interwoven with the forceful de-industrialization of others such as India.

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This process was not pristine. Domestically, rational states provided facilitative institutional frameworks for the development of industry, technological innovations, weaponry and science; abroad, they provided sustenance for imperial policies. These ideas ended the long dominance of the dynastic state and defined the social framework of modernity. Nothing of comparable weight has come into being since, so these ideas, and the interplay amongst them, not only defined the dynamics of legitimacy and conflict during the 20 th century, but continue to dominate the 21 st The three components of the global transformation were mutually reinforcing.

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