Thursday, October 1, 2009

Age of Empire

After the Age of Revolutions a solid century went by until we could consider our economy to be pretty much global according to Hobsbawm. There are many factors that led to this during the 14th,15th, 16th, 17th and 18th century like revolutions, population growth, and technological advances. Hobsbawm sticks with an explosive time period that saw many changes to the global economy. The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th transitions a world with little definition of hegemony to the world we have today with superpowers and corporations. The industrial revolutions led to a completely different age in which people could invent and discover whatever they thought was possible. Literacy rates and life expectancy was increasing in many parts of the developed parts of the world. People began to learn that conquering every piece of land in the world might not be as important as securing your homeland and its economic relations with the rest of the world. Inventions like the steam engine led people to believe in the natural resources our planet had. Also, mass production of textiles and metals allowed entrepreneurs to exploit our world of its natural resources to benefit ourselves and have more money than we know what to do with. These changes happened so quick that if you did not get on the train you would be left behind with the third world countries.
Many of the statements Hobsbawm makes about the USA I find very interesting. The industrialization occurring during the late 19th century is exponential compared to many other time periods. Although, we still see the tariffs, or tributes, being given to the ruling governments for protection. The chart that Hobsbawm shows on page 39 is interesting with the USA being one of the highest taxing nations during this time period. The political power of the superpowers seemed to be much more of an influence in the rise of these nations and the economy.
It does not seem like Hobsbawm is much a fan of America and the ways it has obtained its wealth. I am wondering how much he is going to attack the development of the USA in this book, but I don’t think we have seen the worst of it. The argument I would like to see would be of economic cycles. One cycle I have noticed would be powerful people trying to expand their empire failing, only to wipe their existence into the history books or to end up behind were they started. I feel the USA during this time period slowed expansion to rely more on its industrialization and taking power by controlling the world market, not the land. If that makes sense.

1 comment:

  1. Yes Logan, I think you hitting the right mark when you talk of the how he tries to explain the USA. I do not think he has really talked about them yet, and I think he will get into more detail as the book goes on. But that does raise a good point as,how will he explain the expansion. It does make sense how he is leaving the USA out. Also, you topic of cycle’s is very intriguing. I think your right on the nose when you say that he will try to explain it will cycles. Though history itself is not made on cycles is it? Some like to believe it is but I think otherwise. History is just history its nothing more, saying it follows cycles is stupid, that is saying that the future is already set up? You feel me??