Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hobsbawm ch. 1

Hobsbawm begins this section by discussing how the world of the late eighteen hundreds was now completely global, in a sense that the time for true discovery had come and passed. The world was now charted extensively, leaving the only exploration in the north and south poles, and to regions not usually visited, otherwise known as tourism. The world was also more populated during this period. For example, Hobsbawm points out the case of the Americas, which rose from around seven million to one hundred and sixty million in a one hundred year period (Hobsbawm 14). Both this and the connecting of the world, becoming geographically tinier, attributed to solidifying the exchange of goods and services between countries.

Something I found interesting was the comparison Hobsbawm makes between the gross national product per capita between the modern, “developed” countries and the same nations between seventeen-fifty and eighteen hundred. These figures today would place every one of these nations in the category of being Third World, the lowest point on the totem poll. However, Hobsbawm believes this was a problem brought on by the Chinese Empire. During this time period, around one-third of the world’s population resided in China. It was intriguing to me that the Chinese standard of living was equal too, or possibly superior to the powerful European nations. However, the western nations were expanding with an economic revolution which would re-shape the world. These nations would eventually begin to pull away from Third World nations, creating a new hierarchy in the economic power struggle.

Do you believe the emergence of modern technology in Second and Third world countries accompanied by the sever recession in the United States is a foreshadowing to our nation being replaced as one of the top nations in the world? Is the United States time on top coming to an end?


  1. Although i appreciate this observation, because i certainly would not have thought of it without reading your post, i do not think the USA will soon be replaced as one of the top nations. I think we have our fingers so deep into many issues at this moment in time that replacing us could cause some chaos to those countries who are connected to us in some way or another. However, maybe if there was a threat we would change the way we do things a little to avoid such a travesty.

    --Dorothy Smith "Bunny"

  2. Dan, those were the exact thoughts I had as we discussed the theme, technology leading to world power, in class. Kind of scary, isn’t it?
    I do think that the production of technology in what we now consider2nd and 3rd world countries can pose a threat to the USA. Economically this is threatening, but more importantly, I think it poses a threat to the USA’s dominance in the world.
    Recent reports conclude that the USA is lagging behind its competition (Britain, France, China, Russia, Japan) in terms of education, new technology, and medical advancements; which go hand in hand with one another. As we discussed in class, history does go in cycles. Since we know that technology tends to equal power, as the US slips in its ranks its power slowly destabilizes. Maybe the US is just going through a small “dry-spell”, or maybe it has to do with “America’s laziness”? Either way, the US is at a disadvantage right now. Sure enough, if the US does not come out of this dry-spell, other countries will take advantage of the void caused by the US and rise above: potentially taking the US’s place in world dominance (we know this will happen because we’ve seen the cycle before). The US is lagging, but not so much that it cannot regain its zeal and earn back its complete dominance in the world. The US needs to reevaluate its education system and standards, technology will follow, followed by economic prosperity (lets hope), and a firm position as a world power. If the US does not do this. . . Sadly, I think it could be the beginning of the end of the US powerhouse.

  3. You pose an interesting question. Nicole additionally makes a strong point in the necessity for an improvement in the U.S. education system, which has fallen behind some of those worldwide.

    As far as the status of the U.S. as a world power, I believe the topic is still up for debate. The dollar has clearly wavered and is no longer the unquestioned currency leader. There are challenges presenting themselves from countries like China, who are dedicated to achieving world leader status. In the end, though, I do not believe an independent challenge to U.S. authority is imminent, as the most likely actors are heavily invested stakeholders in the success of the U.S.

    I am not saying that the U.S. should be satisfied with its current position, as the "American laziness" mentioned above is increasingly palpable. I think too many Americans have turned away from the foundations of hard work that this country was built upon. Many people would rather wait and have someone else take care of their problems. Americans got comfortable in their own skin in my opinion, and maybe the current recession will be the impetus to once again rise to the clear world leader. If not, I think that it is only a matter of time until the U.S. finds itself under a serious threat of being replaced.

  4. I feel like America is resting on the fact that they are being told that they are the top country in the world. I feel like they are not doing anything to improve on the values originally set by the forefathers of the country. America has become comfortable with what it has become. That is why in America i feel that Americans arent living to their full potential. Its the immagrants that make a bigger impact on America than natural born Americans do. So even though America has the resources most other countries don't, other countries and their natives has much more potential than America. They unfortunately just lack the resources and opportunities.