Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Age of Empire 1

The first few chapters of Hobsbawm's novel deal with the developing of the world during the 19th and 20th centuries. By the late 19th century the world had become a lot more global. With the inventions of the railway and steamships, international and transcontinental travel time had been greatly reduced. Months had been reduced to weeks, meaning the tourist trade had come to a larger scale. Most of the world had already been discovered by this point so new endevours included inhabiting the North and South Poles. There was also rapid growth in population during the 19th century. In Europe as well as in the Americas, the population had more than doubled. Although the world was becoming even more global regarding trade and even travel, there were big divisions starting to happen. During this time economic disparities between regions caused certain countries to become even wealthier while others lagged behind. A large cause of the gap between richer and poorer countries had to do with their technology. The nations who could afford more expensive technology had an advantage in warfare and battle. Although stated as a generalization most core/rich nations had their roots in industry while the poorer regions dealt with agriculture. Defining the difference between the two different sections was easy however categorizing some parts of the world became hard. Europe for instance had some key regions where capitalism was thriving however parts of Europe did not. Europe in the 19th century was the core of capitalism and never before then had there ever been a century so uniquely European.

What I found interesting about the information presented so far is the rise of some countries economically along with the stall of others. During the 18th century the differences between industrial and non-industrial countries were not all that great. The economic disparities were not large and most countries were on relatively equal footing. However in less than a hundred years things changed so drastically. All of a sudden some countied had a gross domestic product of over seven times a country who a year before basically had the same GDP. I am not sure what caused such a large increase in the short time span. Was it just the technological innovations of the times which allowed takeovers of other countrues, and therefore more economics growth for the conquerors? I felt like the answer was never truly explained.

One idea in the novel so far that I do not understand is the way Europe was classified as being a richer region. In the book the 19th century was basically said to be a European century and went on to say that Europe was the center of capitalist development. However previously the author had said that while some parts of Europe were weathier and industrially inclined most parts were on the outskirts of economic devlopment. How can Europe be considered the center of capitalismm during this time if most of the regions were lagging behind, and not constituted as rich nations. I think the author should have been a little clearer on how economically sound the ouskirts of Europe were; because the margins of capitalism may mean different ideas to different people.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if it said in the book, but I would venture to guess that the discriminant economic and technological advancements - or advancements in general - were a result of rapid and profound industrialization...

    An example would be Great Britain - the first country to industrialize. Great Britain was clearly the leader economically and in output until other countries became industrialized, at which point Great Britain was no longer supreme.