Thursday, October 1, 2009

Age of Empire- Commentary 4

By definition, the words economy and industrialize imply a perpetually dynamic shift in hegemony. Eric Hobsbawm’s, The Age of Empire, reduces the 19th century into two systems; the developed countries who have become world powers, and second and third world countries, or those who are lagging in power. Many factors were involved in the world’s transformation from the 18th to 19th century. As Hobsbawm puts it, “the world was becoming demographically larger and geographically smaller and more global- a planet bound together even more tightly by the bonds of moving goods and people, of capital and communication, of material products and ideas- in another it was drifting into division (pg14).” This resulted in the widening of the economic and industrialized gap between 1st world and 2nd and 3rd world countries.

This powerful separation of world influence was largely due to technology. For instance, the newfound transportation system, with the invention of the railroad and the advancement in the steam engine, allowed for tremendous emigration. Hobsbawm calls it a “giant urban ant-leap (pg21).” This occurred by movement from countryside to cities in Europe and from underdeveloped countries to more developed areas like North America. Although the majority of the world was nowhere near industrialization, in Hobsbawm’s opinion, lagging countries still used the “liberal- constitutional nation-state as a model (pg22).” This idea was obviously successful in developed countries; in other areas, like Latin-America for example, this model did not advance them to the same standing as Europe and North America.

I like how Eric Hobsbawm clearly set the stage for the events, specifically the world wars, of the 20th century. I think his emphasis on economic, politics, and industrialization is a vital backdrop for understanding more recent historical happenings. Hobsbawm seemed very dialectical in argument. In what ways is he influence by Karl Marx? In what ways would Marx disagree with The Age of Empire?

1 comment:

  1. I think Hobsbawm is very much influenced by Marx's sociology. We can see this in AoE when Hobsbawm (generally) separates classes into bourgeois and proletariat. This separation is also strong in his separation of societies/nations: developed and dependent, or "core and periphery".

    Hobsbawm doesn't seem to be too anti-capitalistic (not militantly anti-cap), I think Marx wouldn't like that. I don't know enough about Marxism though.

    -Stefan Larson