Thursday, October 22, 2009


In The Age of Empire, Chapters 10 through 13, Hobsbawm summarizes the history and progression of the global structure right up until World War I. From science to religion, from nationalism to imperialism, and from sexism to war he really delves into the pre World War I period and meticulously explains the political, economic, scientific, and social. Here are a few points throughout the chapters that I found interesting: in chapter 10, I thought the way Hobsbawn describes the progress of science was extremely pertinent to the era. He explains the “transformation” in two distinct ways—intellectual and political. The first implied an end of an understanding of the universe in the view of the engineer or architect. The second implied simply “evolution” or progress, by means of which the state could grow, prosper, and conquer in the eyes of the bourgeois. Another point that interested me was the evolution of the social sciences, especially sociology. Hobsbawm depicts the field (not an academic subject because it was not yet that well defined) of sociology as the first education endeavor to explore the transformation of peoples and societies over history. In this era, the political was the most important of the so called sociological topics. Lastly, in chapter thirty I thought the third quote opening up the chapter was odd in some form. It said, “We will glorify war—world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for women”( 302). First off, I believe this statement, which emphasized the words militarism and patriotism, reinforces Hobsbawm’s main point—the dominance of imperialism and nationalism in the world before the time leading up to World War I. However, the last part of the quote,” …and scorn for women” I do not quite understand. I do not understand why Hobsbawm decided to keep this part of the statement in or even why the original speaker needed to add this statement to the sentence. Although women did not even have the right to vote in America at this time, women were treated respectfully. Why would anyone equate war (in the modern sense) to scorning women? And what is the purpose of Hobsbawn inserting this statement at the beginning of the chapter?

In the Epilogue, the author describes the distinction by prominent figures of the time that war aids the development of industry. In fact, the author describes the first time the idea that war was not only an economic developer, but a political necessity. My question is why was this idea not expressed earlier? Was the advancement of technology and the need for industry because of this technology, the only reason industry flourished? Without these advancements, what would have happened?

1 comment:

  1. I could not find the section in the book that you quoted regard scorning women so I will only address the last paragraph of your commentary. The topic of war affecting economic and industrial development seems very interesting and probably has causal explanations. Hobsbawm probably did not find this as relevant as some of the other key events that shaped the Age of Empire. Here is an article that discusses the lack of documented information about your questions: