Saturday, October 3, 2009

G-20 Extra Credit

To be honest I had no idea G-20 was going to be in Pittsburgh until the first day of classes, when professors mentioned we may have a schedule change on the day of G-20. I also had no idea what G-20 was about. I knew it was important, I knew Obama and other world leaders would be here and I knew Pittsburgh would probably be chaotic.
Before I talk about the actual G-20, I want to bring up how disappointed I was with the way the University handled the event. The last minute class cancels or lack there of, should have been planned better. I would have liked to see Thursday and Fridays classes canceled. This way students that wanted to get out of the city could have done so on Wednesday.
Since I live off-campus, I took it upon myself to stay inside on Thursday and Friday...I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm just as curious as the nest Pitt Panther, but after hearing about people saving urine to throw at G-20 participants (or as close as they could get to that), and the possibility of huge, reckless riots, I felt the best thing for me to do was just stay home. So, consequently, my experience of G-20 was through YouTube videos and news stories. By choice, I refrained from getting caught in the first-hand G-20 madness. I did find that, once I finally left my house, several businesses on Baum Boulevard had been vandalized, including busted windows. From what I was told, Forbes Avenue had it's fare share of vandalized businesses as well. After looking at these, I immediately thought of the SuperBowl riots, and how similar the two had been. The only difference was, I felt totally different about them both. For some reason, I was inclined to be present, at least to watch, during the Steelers riots, but for the G-20 Summit, I had no incentive to even leave the house to watch. To me, the G-20 vandalism and disruptions seemed much more damaging than the SuperBowl celebrations. Maybe it was the difference in ideological motivation that made me feel differently about G-20--instead of celebrating with my friends outide, participating in the G-20 protests would require a strong political stance and willingness to independently protest.
Outside of protesting, I was told about several stories dealing with the unorganized manner in which police handled the crowds on campus. I heard students telling horror stories about being locked out of their dormrooms, all the way to students being gassed out of public buildings. From what I could gather, it seemed like miscommunication was the overwhelming problem on capus during the Summit. Groups of students were frequently misdirected around campus, by police, campus security, etc. I understand that the police's goal was to control the campus environment, but I've heard that the average students were often confused with protestors, which I strongly disagree with. Overall, I think G-20 was good for the city of Pittsburgh, but unfortunatley, there were mismanagements on campus that left a bad impression for many of the Pittsburgh students. However, for the city as a whole, I think the Summit was handeled well. I even read that the Summit generated $35 million for the city. Go Pittsburgh!

-Justin Lovett

Blog #4

I apologize for the late post...

In this week's readings, we shifted from the very boring 13th century world, to a much more interesting 19th century world. From what we have gathered, between the 13th century and the 19th century, there was a major shift in power, allowing Europe to be considered as one of the dominant world powers.

While Europe is not the only dominant power, it is definitely a major one. The world becomes very competitive and the struggling nations suffer. The dominant nations take advantage of their control and use struggling nations as a stimulant to their economies (i.e. slavery, control of trade, etc.). Also, the development of technology is a critical aspect in determining who dominates the imperialistic world. A lot of the major technology advances dealt with how people traveled, for example trains and steamboats. These technologies enhanced the speed at which nations could reach one another, proving to be pivotal to the dominating nations.

I find the 19th century to be a lot more interesting than the 13th because it much more resembles the world that I live in. I also find it interesting that slowly the more readings we do, we are gradually noticing Europe gain more and more power.

-Justin Lovett

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blog 4

(Sorry for the late post... I got the times mixed up. It's Friday at 10 and Saturday at 5, not the other way around...)

I am happy to be done with the 13th century!  This week our reading introduced the 19th century before World War I, the world of imperialism.  It begins with the centennial of the American and French Revolutions, describing the massive increase in technology, allowing for a more connected world (via steamboats, the telegraph, and train systems).  During this time, countries worked together to advance the human race as a whole, instead of our current competitive nature.  However, it did not take long for the world system to become competitive, causing an imperialistic world.  With colonial expansion came feelings of European supremacy.  Europeans looked down on less developed nations, not respecting other cultures.  What imperialism did was westernize the world.

It is interesting to look at the European hegemons in contrast to the 13th century when the East was certainly more dominant.  The world we are reading about now is very similar to the world we currently live in, where the world system is dominated by western culture. 

I’d be interested to see what the American part is in the imperialist world.  Thus far, America has not been mentioned in the reading too much.  What was the US’s role in this world so different than the 13th century?

--Arielle Parris

Extra Credit blog- G20

Wow. Living on a college campus in Pittsburgh at this time is quite an experience. This year we were right in the middle of the largest political get together. Before the G20 came i was hoping it would be a really great experience for Pittsburgh. However, now i do not necessarily think it was good thing. Yes, Pittsburgh is now on the map; people know it... but how do they know it? I kind of get the impression that although the G20 was located here, Pittsburgh did not have much to do with how it was controlled. The city was under Marshall law and it didn't seem like Ravenstall had much to do with it.
I think that the way the police acted was completely inappropriate and out of control. Obviously the government expected much more mayhem than they got because the cops seemed like they were itching to use their weapons. Most of the protests were peaceful. There was one group that got roudy but with proper police action nothing bad should have happened to innocent people. Also, i heard that thw most damage that was done in Oakland (all the smashed out windows) was mainly done by one person. And it was after this, when the police saw the damage on Forbes, that they began to lash out at "protestors" when really they gassing curious students. I mean, that is why we are students. We are curious. We want to learn. You can't arrest someone for exercising their rights. I felt as though a trigger went off in the police officers' heads and they went on a rage rampage. They seemed like they came so prepared to bust down rambunctious protestors that when there wasn't enough of them they took their actions on students and bystanders. They acted inappropriately and I am disappointed the force that is set up to protect the citizens of the USA. I think The University of Pittsburgh should sue.

--Dorothy smith

The Multiverse

(I apologize for the nerdy title, and for the lateness of the post.  My internet died on me last night…perhaps I need a new installation of the tubes…and I apologize for the lameness, too…)


            Directly from Abu-Lughod’s world system of the 13th century, we jump into Hobswan’s world system of the late nineteenth century.  Vast differences are apparent between these two systems.  Most notably, whereas Abu-Lughod’s book deals specifically with a system without any kind of hegemonic power in any sense, even a dominant trader (indeed, the purpose of her book was to show a system that lacked such hegemony), Hobswan starts with a world with not only a hegemonic trading region, but a part of the world that has completely dominated the system, not only in trade, but also militarily, culturally, industrially, and by practically any other measure.  This difference is evidenced in the covers of the books.  Before European Hegemony features a title showing the relative equity of the world, and features Arab artwork on the cover.  Age of Empire relates a time of dominance by one area over the area, and prominently displays a picture of a European colonial soldier.  The key difference as well is that not only is the Europe the dominant trader in this system, but they have physically conquered most of the world.  The various parts of the world involved in international trade are not, like in the 13th century, equal (or near equal) trading partners, but there is a clear divide between the people who control the system and those who don’t.  As Hobswan clearly defines, this was a time when imperialism came to exist, both as a term and a process.  The two parts of this system could be neatly categorized as “developed” or “undeveloped,” which commonly translated to colonizers and colonies.  The periphery of Abu-Lughod’s system may have been mildly exploited economically (mildly being a purely relative term), but they still had some say in their own actions.  Hobswan’s system is one where the periphery is literally dominated by the core, where the developed, advanced nations of (mostly Western) Europe invaded, subjugated, and colonized large swaths of the Earth and then dictated the terms of any labor or trade that occurred there.  This often led to vast amounts of cruelty, and unbelievable exploitation or killing of the inhabitants.  As we move forward and see more detail of this system, I am interested to see how more of the details emerge.  Will similarities begin to emerge in this system, or will the trend continue to point out divergence?

Age of Empire

I am so happy we are finished with Abu-Lughod. During our class discussion we talked about the quote "Whatever happens, we have got the Maxim guns, and they have not." It's interesting because you still see this brute mentality in a lot of war and countries. Throughout history we have seen the A bomb as a literal weapon of mass destruction. In Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked the US ships and caused great tragedy for our naval bases and citizens, so in return we dropped the "Little boy" and "Fat man" on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was all a matter of we have the larger weapons so we will, in the end conquer all. Having the ultimate weapons proves to be a large terror in our world systems today; George Bush claimed "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, and all though this obviously turned out to not be true and there was a hidden agenda, the news did in fact affect the world and the citizens who trusted Bush's word.
Another interesting point that was brought up in class was that even though a specific country may have the "larger" weapons, it doesn't mean that they will conquer because now with technology and such it means more than having bigger things to be more successful and powerful.

Abby Crouse

Age of Empire

The Age of Empire, written but Eric Hobsbawn, displays a variety of very intriguing views and thoughts about many different nations and societies. He talks about third world countries as "Dependent" Nations and thriving nations as "Developed". Many different factors going into account when differing from a developed nations and a dependent nation. If one nation had the money and technology to build various structures they were considered a developed nation. The industrial Era was starting to begin at this time and many advances were being made such as the automobile. This also helped developed nation in their process to excel. Dependent nations were usually located in cities and did not have as much money as many of the other nations, so in turn they were unable to advance as much.
In the first few chapters, Hobsbawn talks about the advancements made in technology and other ares which led to Europe being a very strong nation. Although Europe was thriving, America was too. Immigration was becoming a big thing in America and many of the Europeans migrated here causing a massive population growth. This cause more industry to start creating more jobs and allowing more people the opportunity to live here. Industry was a big part in the move towards advancement and so was education. Education was much more popular in the developed nations and not in others such as Russia. This drew a gap between many nations and caused others to lag behind.
I'm curious to know if there is anything the underdeveloped nations could have done to help themselves advance. Also why didn't many of the developed nations of the time assist the dependent nations, similar to what goes on today.

Western Tech

The technologies developed by the dominant western powers would enable them to stay on top for much of this time period (1875-1914). Clearly weaponry was a key factor. The British were not the first to use firearms since gunpowder was invented in China. However, they were the first to invent the deadly machine gun that would change the face of warfare forever. The Maxim machine gun was revolutionary in that it enabled a small force to defeat larger (less developed) armies. It would have been impossible for the powerful west to stay on top without the aid of such technologies.
Another key invention was the steam engine and more specifically the railroad systems. Not only did this spark commercial integration and growth. It connected vast parts of the world together. Where once it took weeks to travel across open continents, it was then shortened to days or even hours. The railway technologies that helped to advance the West were brought to their colonies and vassals. A classic example is the construction of railways in China. The rail system there was not for China’s advantage but for Western capitalists. The rails were designed to carry materials from the interior of China to the coast. Their purpose was not to link parts of China together for the use of the Chinese people but rather was used to facilitate faster acquisition of their natural and manufactured goods.
Over time technologies are then incorporated in the host countries for their own good but this happened after their overlords left.

Hobsbawn 1

Finally we’re on to the modern world system! Not that there was anything wrong with the world system of the 13th century, but I thought it was a bit exhausted and I just find the Eurocentric world more interesting. Hobsbawm introduces the world system of the late 19th century prior to the first World War as one of advancement and imperialism. It begins with the centennial of the American Revolution (1876) and the French Revolution (1889) where major technological innovations took place like the development of railways, steamships, and the telegraph which assisted in a smaller more interconnected world by a much more rapid movement of goods and communication. At the high point of this innovative time, the entire world was advancing and instead of major competition, all the countries worked together to maximize each other’s gains. But as the system began to depress, the system became more competitive and opened way to imperialism. For developed core nations, imperialism became a symbol of patriotism and power. Colonial expansion caused white Europeans to develop a sort of superiority complex when they traveled abroad, being respected no matter what their status at home was, just for the fact of being European. Europeans looked down upon the people of the peripheral nations since they weren’t as wealthy or developed, but Hobsbawm made clear that the perception of wealth was only relative and what these peripheral nations lacked in economical wealth and empire, they made up for in culture, food, etc. The major effect of imperialism was the westernization of the world.

This is in stark contrast from the world system of the 13th century in which the East was more dominant and the West was only just joining the system with little influence. It’s clearly much more similar to today’s world system in that the West dominated in wealth and culture. I know that the end of the 13th century world system was marked by the decline in Eastern hegemons and the rise of Western with the Portuguese Man O’ Wars invading the Indian Ocean but I’m curious as to what happened in between these two events. What happened in the three centuries between these two world systems that caused Western domination – particularly with Great Britain. Many things can be assumed from the differences between the two systems as well as how the power was distributed in the more modern system, but it’s still such a large gap in time, I’m curious of what happened during it. I think without any sort of discussion it doesn’t really relate these two world systems well and I’d like to make more relevant correlations.

Old World vs. New World: Which Do You Prefer?

In the reading this week, Age of Empire, Eric Hobsbawn does (in my opinion) a great job of depicting the transition from an “old world” to a “modern world” that many countries experienced during the late 19th century/early 20th century. I believe he draws exceptional comparisons between the two “worlds” especially when he gets to the subject of the whole world being industrialized, one after the other.

Before industrialization set in, the “old world” admonished the things that set them apart from everyone else, things like their culture. This was always of great importance, but as industrialization began to set in – a new perspective about culture (and other things of that nature) began to come to the forefront. In the “modern world,” being able to invent things and sustaining the trade amongst the entire world-system had become a new top priority. It was these inventions that helped people discover and take advantage of natural resources; trade was booming internationally. This revolution was occurring at such a fast pace that some may be bold enough to make the statement that all the countries weren’t ready for it.

What I would like to know, that maybe should be a discussion question in class one day, is what would have happened had the industrial revolution not occurred? Would society still be as it is today? Would the revolution still have occurred, just maybe a decade or so later? Something else to consider, what if the “modern world” didn’t work the way many thought it would? What would’ve happened had the international trade suddenly collapsed? These are all things that ultimately affect how our society functions today, and I just am curious to know what people think society would be like had these events not occurred?

The Begining of the New World

The world is now changing as the new book shifts gears into focusing on the late ninetieth century and early twentieth century. This book explores how the rise of the many hegemonies in the world was primarily in the west although the book does mention that Japan was still considered a core country at the time. The first two chapters of the book identifies the technology of the west as being why they grew into core countries. Britain is talked about much throughout the first part of this book as being a country who thought control on the peripheries were the best way o accomplish domination in the world. The author stated that many of the colonized countries were dependent on the buying of their primary good. The author highlighted Cuba as being this. The economy depended upon the USA buying sugar and cigars, if they did not buy them, the country had trouble keeping a sustainable economy. The author talked about how railways were curial in the world economy system. Saying that in mid 1800’s some 200,000km of rail lines were built and by the start of world war one there were close to one million railway lines built. The author again highlighted that many of the western countries tried to assume power by colonizing certain areas of the world, thinking that the use of natural resources there would bring them much fortune.
I thought it was very interesting how many countries were trying to buy up or take over all this power. I know much of power is holding onto the most land, but why always go after it full throttle? Does it make more sense to stabilize the economy in your own country then dictate the market throughout the world? Also, the amount of tea and coffee consumed by the American and GB is absurd. There is no reason to have a spike in that amount of a certain good. I just found it very weird.
One thing I do want to know about is the USA involvement in this whole ordeal. The author continually highlight the French and English but never does he really go into how the USA played in this world economy, I was just wondering where they fit in among this mess…

Developed vs. Non-developed worlds

The first few chapters of Hobsbawm explains the process of transformation in the world from the 18th to the 19th century. He describes that in the 19th century, the world was becoming more global, more populated, and divided into 2 distinct sectors.  First, the world was becoming more global in the 19th century because most grounds had been discovered and there was little to explore. Infrastructure such as railways and steamships made travel from one continent to the other faster and easier. Also, the invention of the electric telegraph made communication across continents easily accessible. Second, the world was becoming more populated, one reason being the mass emigration overseas of Europeans. Finally, Hobsbawm explains the world as two separate sectors; advanced vs. dependent. Factors that distinguished the advanced sector from the dependent one were; technology, political organizations, military forces, literacy, division of labor, etc. He also talks about Europe being the main capitalist center.

I found it interesting when Hobsbawm mentions that the distinction between industrialized and agricultural countries is not clear. I found it surprising when Hobsbawm said that the developing world remained mostly agricultural and there were only 6 countries that agriculture wasn’t the majority.

            One of the questions I have would be to understand how the Italian merchants went from being so powerful in a “capitalist” trading market to slowing being in the decline. I understand that literacy and religion were factors in the development of the advanced sector of the world, but were there other reasons for their decline? Another thing I found interesting was when Hobsbawn questions those countries that were reluctant to participate in the progression of a powerful new world. I am not sure I understand what this unwillingness he talks about was?

Hobsbawm's Economic Globalization

Like Abu-Lughod, Hobsbawm approached globalization from an economic standpoint in the first chapter. The economic climate of the 19th century was vastly different from that of the 13th century, however. According to Hobsbawm it was now “genuinely global”. There were much deeper divisions between the rich and poor of the world, greatly contributed to by the new technology emerging at this time. Industrialization was transforming the workforce, although agriculture continued to be the main source of employment. Literacy was becoming more and more common and a distinction between first and third world countries. And by this time Europe had clearly taken on a hegemonic role in world economics and politics. Hobsbawm states that although “large parts of ‘Europe’ were…on the margins of the core of capitalist economic development and bourgeois society” (17), still Europe “was not only the original core of the capitalist development which dominated and transformed the world, but by far the most important component of the world economy and of bourgeois society” (18). This is quite a departure from the world described by Abu-Lughod.

The second chapter is slightly more pessimistic, in its discussion of the slight economic downturn. The world was still prospering in the late 19th century, but business and trade were not growing as quickly as they had been. This fact, however, did not hurt globalization but rather helped it as it encouraged landless peasants to emigrate. And more and more distinctive traits of capitalism were emerging. Although we today fear inflation, the people of the 1890s feared deflation, and that is what they had to contend with, along with the lack of a large enough mass market for consumer goods. Governments took a more active, though still liberal role in business- mainly by coming to the rescue by putting protective tariffs on foreign goods so that domestic companies had less competition. However much these capitalist ideas spread, they could not reverse the depression. Thus imperialism developed as a way to counteract the economic recession.

Hobsbawm says that the correlation between the beginning of “territorial expansion” and the turnaround in the economy is significant but the exact relationship between the two cannot be pinpointed. Still, imperialism very well may not have developed had the 19th century economy not slowed down. So this institution came to be because a capitalist society needed to sustain itself. It reminds me of how Marx liked to emphasize the greed of capitalists and the lengths they will go to to gain wealth and power. Imperialism seems extreme nowadays, as well as being morally questionable. And yet it was admirable then. The British Empire, the most perfect example of imperial power, was respected and feared around the world. Even today it is still spoken of with awe. With the modern ideals of independence and every country’s right to self-governance, strictly enforced by the more powerful countries, it is unlikely that anything even slightly resembling the British Empire will exist again in the future.

Post #4

Part 1:
China was hands down was the most advanced in technology and also had a very large population in the medieval world. China increased in strength over many years by way of state organization, "intellectual sophistication", and peasant production. While the Sung Dynasty was in power there were threats from "barbarians" from the north which soon lead to the Mongol conquest, and their rule of the entire country under Yuan; this marked China's highest point of premodern achievement. China's large population was a testament to their high achievement. According to the People's Republic, in 1190 China had 73million inhabitants. Just before the Mongol conquest, China's populations in Chin and Sung were roughly 100million people. The World system in the 13th century predicted that China would continue to grow and expand with power.

Part 2:
I find it interesting that even with China having such a large population that they were still able to be invaded by the barbarians. I feel as though China had a lot of pull and great numbers so they should have been able to prevent invasion.

Part 3:
What do you think China could have done differently to prevent from being invaded? Also, do you believe if China had never been invaded that they would be more advanced then they are today?

Blog 4: Second World: What makes a country second world?

Can I just start off by saying good riddance to Janet Abu-Lughod. She had a good run, but I am happy to see her go. Her run around logic and often-sporadic train of thought was exhausting and frustrating to dissect. Eric Hobsbawn, while still a bit dry, is at least clear and highly systematic. I don’t know if I agree with New York Times when they labeled this book a “virtuoso performance” or depicted Hobsbawn as “one of the few genuinely great historians of our century”; however, I’ll give him his props for clarity and sheer amount of information he covered throughout the novel. Here is to hoping he becomes more exciting and titillating as the book goes on. Sigh…if only.
Hobsbawn presents a world no longer made of pieces, but a world now globally linked. Advancements of technology, transportation, education, and a new capitalist mindset of expansion led to a world no longer of mysterious edges but opportunity and expansion. Competitions of exploration once again sprung up in 1907 between U.S., British, and Scandinavian for the North Pole, this illustrate the lengths countries now went to find the new frontier. The world was becoming a smaller place. Railroad systems and steamships made it possible to travel transcontinental and intercontinental, once a journey of months, in days. For example, in 1904, the journey from Paris to Vladivostok was made in fifteen days. The electric telegraph made communication across the global possible in a few hours.
The social advancements of technology and transportation were the very factors, which created the distinctive differentiation between the ‘third world’ and the ‘developed world’. In 1880, the global system was divided into two sectors: the developed and the dependent. The developed was unified by history and capitalistic development. The latter were utterly disconnected except for their connection to the develop sector. The ’developed world’ was quickly leaving their agricultural roots behind and rapidly urbanizing. According to Hobsbawn, an ‘advanced country’ was homogeneous, internationally sovereign, economically developed, and was governed by a defined political and legal institution. Another huge defining factor was literacy. Technology was also used as a qualifying factor. A ‘developed world’ was marked with material production, the use of steam, iron, and coal. In Europe in the late 19th century was 95% of their energy source. The ability of mass material production and speedy communication in the ‘developed world’ marked a country as ‘advanced’. Hobsbawn states, “The 3rd world remained endemic.”
The ability for these countries to use individuals to think up ways to increase efficiency illustrated a lack of urgency in providing for the basics. Society steadily creating an incredibly dense and complex set of connection in trade. By becoming the leading manufacturer in one product, a country may have had to sacrifice producing a different product, which in turn led them to look outward for new sources. The world system developed was more permanent and static than the 13th century model.
My main question, and hopefully someone can help me out, but what defines a ‘second world’ country. Hobsbawn clearly establishes what ‘third world’ and ‘first world’/’developed world’ countries are, but he is pretty vague and neglectful in describing a ‘second world’. Can anyone explain this to me? In addition, what is an example of a ‘second world’ country? What distinguishes a ‘second world’ from a ‘first world’ and ‘second world’ from a ‘third world’? What level of development have they achieved? How advanced is their society based on morality, economic system, and educational system?

The Age of Empire – The Impact of Imperialism for Britain

    The Age of Empire written by Eric Hobsbawn gave an overview of the world from 1875 – 1914. One of the major practices that were utilized during the age of empire was a format known as imperialism. While reading the chapters, the most interesting part involved Hobsbawn talked about how imperialism affected The United Kingdom. Imperialism was seen in a positive light during these times. It brought about economic and cultural impact. There is a major significance for imperialism in the metropolitan countries. The economic impact of imperialism was major; however, it did not help the relationship between the metropoles and dependencies. Among the metropolitan countries, imperialism was obviously of greatest importance to Britain. This was because the economic supremacy of that country was always hinged on their special relationship with the oversea markets and sources of primary products. It is arguable that at no time in the United Kingdom been particularly competitive on the markets of industrializing economies, except the golden age. Management and ownership of the relationship with the non-European world was a matter of importance for Britain.

    Britain was successful in their attempt to do so during the nineteenth century. They created a "new" imperialist expansion. South Africa was the main competition during this time period. The main success for Britain was due to the more systematic exploitation of Britain's already existing or of the countries special position as a big time importer. South Africa, India, and Egypt were all independent aspects for Britain. Overtime, with ups and downs along the way, British capitalist did well out of their informal of free empire. With imperialism, Britain took a large share of the newly colonized regions of the world, and, given British strength and experience. Britain controlled the denser African populations.

    Imperialism was an important part of the age of empire during the nineteenth century, as well as the early twentieth century. Imperialism brought westernization to the elites and potential elites of the dependent world. For all governments and elites, the only options were to "westernize" or go under. But I feel that those were not the only options. There were many industrialized countries that were successful during the nineteenth century who did not practice imperialism. One question that I pose is: was imperialism necessary? One important aspect of imperialism is that it brought about a special impact on the ruling and middle classes of the metropolitan countries. A handful of countries in the west dominated the globe. This was necessary and essential for Britain to maintain its position within the empire during the nineteenth century. Imperial triumh raised both problems and uncertainties. These problems and uncertainties involved racism, vulnerability, and lack of democracy.

Imperialism and Empires

In the first part of Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Empire, he details what he terms the “Centenarian Revolution” or the century of innovation after the American and French Revolutions. This time period is marked by rapid advancements in technology, especially in the developments of railways, steamships, and the telegraph. This made the world a lot “smaller” as trips across Eurasia could be measured in weeks instead of months and even years, and speedy communication across great distances was possible for the first time. But this “Centenarian Revolution” is only the foundation for Hobsbawm’s book, in the following chapters he begins to discuss the major movements in the 1800’s, focusing on the economic and political shifts. The 1800’s had a turbulent economy to say the least, industrialization was rapid, and yields were increasing dramatically. However, this is not a sign of prosperity. The effect of increased production was a steep decrease in prices. Every sector suffered in some way, from farmers to factory workers. Hobsbawm also details the political climate of the 1800’s. The major powers were competing to build empires and expand their influence around the world. Hobsbawm fittingly describes this as the “Age of Empire.”

I found the question presented in class, “Who benefited from Imperialism” rather intriguing, I wasn’t there for the discussion (I was out sick) but I did think about it on my own. Obviously benefitting were the imperialistic powers. Their colonies provided them with natural resources, global power and international prestige. Their economies could be stimulated, as having control over foreign ports benefits not only your own sailing ships but also can be a source of income. Colonies also provide a country with a base for both naval and military outposts as well, and as a time filled with warfare as there was extensive wars throughout the colonized world, from Africa, to the Pacific Islands, to South America. But I think there were some benefits to the colonized nations as well. They were at least connected into the world system, though it came at a high price. Things like constant oppression, racism and violence came with being colonized. Just think, the horrific Apartheid of South Africa is the direct result of colonization.

So I wonder, how would the former colonies be different today if not for the Age of Empire? Would India be the same rising power it is today if it hadn’t been under British control for a hundred years or so? How would Africa be different if it hadn’t been sliced up like a cake at the Berlin Conference? It is surely impossible to know, but it is interesting to consider.

Colleen Moroney

The Division

From the reading, I found the points about division between "modern world" and "old world" to be the most interesting. In many cases Hobsbawn makes incredibly basic, though undeniably substantial, comparisons between these two "worlds". I believe that he ties it all in wonderfully with industrialization and how it adversely effected the less advanced cultures. This is discussed at great length throughout the introduction to the book, and I think all of it sets up nicely for (what I hope to be) an interesting read.

I found Hobsbawm's point about wealth and relativity incredibly enlightening. In particular, he highlight's a very valid point. If a man is rich in his own company, yet simply a common man in another, what then are his riches really worth? In another country, his wealth is common. In the grand scheme of things, he really has no worth. Relativity shows up just how meaningless money/wealth can be, which further highlights the division between the old and new world. Specifically, we see the new world industrializing, embracing capitalism, and believing their system to be supreme. So they try to spread these ideals and beliefs to other countries; judging (perhaps this is too strong of a word, forgive me it's 3am) them based on their wealth, or rather, lack there of.

The unfortunate part of this occurrence is that it fails to take into account their art, culture, food, or in general their "relative" riches. It discounts those riches, because they are not in the same proportion of those in the new world. Thus, the divide. It is not that the old world was pointless, crude, and unimportant; but rather it's beauty and "wealth" was in that of a different form- culture, art, architecture, etc. I think it is really interesting to think about exactly how some of our ideals were spread and that, in reality, it was all relative to what we believe. This is kind of like what my first blog was about, in terms of how history was taught. Because, we were taught that the new world showed them the ways of modernity. In reality, it was forced upon them, because the new world had weaponized modernity whilst the old world found reverence in antiquity.

I wonder, how would things be different now if modernization had not been pushed so quickly onto these ancient societies?

The Age of Empire - Blog 1

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were markedly different from the 13th and 14th centuries, although both dealt with the development of world systems. Eric Hobsbawm begins by describing two sectors of the world: “the developed and the lagging, the dominant and the dependent, the rich and the poor” (16). Their three main differences were economic, political, and cultural. However, whether they were developed or not, the majority of people still worked in agriculture, the political infrastructures were similar on a base level, and the cultures were not incredibly different. Hobsbawm merely means to point out that the world was changing, but it is not easy to classify how. Literacy was, in fact, the main separation between the two world sectors. Overall, the whole world was progressing, which was actually a relatively new idea. Nations traded in a world system, but instead of immediately competing, they tried to maximize the gain for everyone involved. This would not last long because of what could be considered the downswing of an economic cycle. After industrialization and the Depression, the nations turned into rivals, and protectionism became the main philosophy. Trusts, mass production, and a lack of laissez-faire took over the political and economic scene, which soon came to be ruled by imperialism. Despite many beliefs to the contrary, Hobsbawm holds that the main reason for colonial expansion was a search for markets in order to expel the excess of overproduction. “Developed” nations were measured by the quantity and quality of their colonial holdings. This enabled politicians to appeal to the national pride of their voters. Imperialism was mentioned in conjunction with glory and prestige in order to keep domestic disobedience and reforms on the back burner. A large part of imperialism was the feeling of power. Europeans, and all whites, who emigrated to colonial holdings were considered with respect, regardless of their profession or how they would have been treated at home. This sense of command was intoxicating but provided whites with a superiority complex. It did not help that the gap between the rich and the poor (generally synonymous with the “whites” and the “coloreds” at this time) was also vastly increasing. This time was categorized by nations attempting to expand their assets, defend their holdings, and carve out spheres of influence. The Monroe Doctrine, a prime example of defense, developed into a surprisingly strong mandate for the Europeans to stay out of the Americas. Of all of the countries, it was particularly important to Britain that she retain her trade routes since that was her main source of income. The overall impact of imperialism was the “westernization” of most of the world and confusion over which type of government would be preferable: an empire or a democracy.

Surprisingly, the political left, such as socialists and participants in the labor movement, advocated for the end of conquest and freedom for colonial holdings. Hobsbawm describes how “radicals revealed the horrors” occurring in colonies, such as Congo (72). This immediately reminded me of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which depicts the same type of scene. In fact, conditions for the exploited workers of Congo had not improved by the end of the novel much in the same way that anti-imperialist efforts did not accomplish much. However, I was still very shocked to learn that labor movements were concerned with issues other than domestic ones. I suppose they felt strongly about the matter because they did not want immigrants coming in and taking their jobs.

I thought it was extremely interesting that the “dependent” countries were specializing in the production of specific goods and that it was seen as a “cage.” In economics, I had learned that specializing was the key to the most efficient, and theoretically best, economy. I understand that it was more limiting than other countries’ production of multiple types of goods, but they still utilized their surroundings and made a good profit. I suppose I just do not understand why that had to restrict their industrialization. Perhaps there simply was not time while they were busy fulfilling the demands of other countries? I would have thought that it would have benefited the specializing countries to at least develop industrial tools that would allow them to better produce their singular product.

Moving On Up

This week's reading dealt with The Age of the Empire. Hobsbawn's book is about Europe between 1875 through 1914. This time in Europe is characterized by rapid growth and population expansion, major industrialization, technological advances and innovations, and booming international trade.
Cities in Europe were becoming more industrialized, creating jobs and opportunities for people that previously never existed. People from rural areas moved to the cities in hopes of making a better living. The cities became overpopulated.
Because the entire world was industrializing in this time period, it clearly defined a global economy. Railroad systems, bridges, and steamboats are just a few of the technological advances and innovations that helped define this global economy. These things made international trade quicker and easier.
Though all of this seems like complete prosperity, it was not. There was defined line between the rich and the poor. There was no in between. Britain fell of its horse. It was no longer the dominant hegemon. There were now smaller hegemons throughout Europe. Overall I liked this week's readings much better than the previous book. It's more interesting to read about in my opinion.


The Age of the Empire shows how the world looked during 1875 through 1914, and a lot had to do with the explosion of technology and different world of economy was booming. Europe became more industrialized which lead to new army technology and new pathways like railroads and bridges for trade movement. The differences between the rich and poor areas were becoming clearly defined, and the differences between the cities being a hegemony and the counties being agricultural. Britain, who was on top of the trading pole, started to depress which gave way for new economies to rise above.
On thing I found interesting this week was the reading being a lot easier to read because it was more interesting. I think it was more interesting because I can identify with the history and the up and downs of the economy. Another thing I found interesting was the history before America started their rise.
Technology is extremely important to the progress of a countries economy because it gives them a way to judge what is going on in that country. Even though the wave shows the dissipation of the economy after information and technology it is still important. If the cycle is true then that gives a clear picture of where the country is, but if it doesn’t it still shows what they have accomplished. Technology has a way to create pathways for transportation which brings more trade which brings more money and prosperity.

Age of Empire, blog 4

This week’s readings in Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Empire, focuses on the drastic growth in the world during Europe’s reign of power through the 20th century. These drastic changes were advances in communication and transportation, population growth, and the correlation of politics and economics. The revolutionary changes that took place over the past 200 years go hand – in – hand with one another and uniquely characterize Europe’s reign over the world and more recently, the United State’s position of power.
Rapid growth of industry caused cities to boom. This also caused population to sky rocket. People fled from the rural areas into the industrialized cities around the world in the late 19th century. Families multiplied, plus the influx of countrymen and women caused overpopulation, a problem never before seen. Industrialism, such as job opportunities, was the root of the cause of people to move, but what made it possible were other innovations; such as steamboats, and intricate railway systems. The innovations made over the past 200 years have made the advances before then seem almost miniscule. Just think of the telegraph and telephone. How drastic these types of changes were, before the telegraph is could take weeks just to send a small message. The telegraph/phone transformed communication. The rise of cities lead to other innovations such as movie theater and different recreational activities like the TV. The rise of cities had complications as well, those cities that could not keep up with the booming technology industry fell into economic disparity. Poorer countries generally relied on agricultural success to keep them a competitive force in the world system; but agricultural societies could not, and, still cannot keep up with technological societies. Industrial countries tend to yield power.
Something I had not thought about since US History in High School, was brought up in the reading this week, and that is the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine stated that any European power who tried to colonize on the western hemisphere would be seen as an aggressor and the US would take appropriate action. The US also promised that they would not attempt to colonize in Europe, sort of like a deal – (you keep to yourselves, we’ll keep to ourselves). Thinking about this, is this even legal?.. Its not like Europe signed and agreed to these terms, did they? I understand Europe didn’t want to go against the US’s word since they were a force not to be reckoned with, but why did Europe settle for these terms to easily?

Age of Empire Reading 1

In the early 19th and 20th century, Europe started to thrive with industrialization. There became new inventions that allowed them to be more global. Inventions such as railroads, steamships, and international travel time had been reduced. While it took couple week or even months to get to another country. It would now take only a couple of hours. There would be more tourists traveling at this point instead of explorers because most of the world has been discovered already. As well as with more tourists, populations started to increase as well. We could see that numbers of inhabitants in Europe and America were starting to get bigger. Europe started to become a core country while all the others were lagging behind. While the previous countries would not give up agriculture, Europe thrived without it. This allowed some countries to be wealthier than others. This drift was also due to the lack of technology in these poor countries. Without the best technology, these poor countries would be lagging behind in warfare and security.

I found it interesting how the adoption of a new idea would either make or break a countries wealth. If the periphery countries adopted technology instead of sticking with agriculture, they would have been core countries. It said in the reading how even in the 18th century, all the countries were pretty much on equal ground. But in just one to two centuries later, we see a developing separation between some countries. It amazes me how quickly the ranks of countries are able to change like that.

I'm wondering about how these core countries were able to switch from agriculture to technology. Was it that their quick switch was due to their lack of skills for agriculture and thus needed something else to do? And the periphery countries now that stuck with agriculture were good at this that's why it was harder for them to give it up?

Angela Han

Age of Empire

Hobswam calls the era from 1875 to 1914the age of empire, because of the changes it brought on in the way the world viewed imperialism. He also associates it with a large number of world leaders calling themselves emperors, at least for the last time in world history.

This period is the era of a newer type of empire, one that colonized everything it touched, and only functioned to gather more land, resources, and power. In this era, about one fourth of the globe’s land was distributed between about six nations. For example, Britain attained four million square miles, and France acquired three and a half million. This was a new development in world history, one much different from the free trading environment of years past. In this society, instead of trading peacefully with smaller nations, the more powerful nations simply conquered the smaller ones, claimed their land, and the mined the goods they wanted from them. This economic expansion and exploitation was crucial for the development of these capitalist empires.

The agreed upon motive for this expansion by historians was the search for newer markets. Often, this search was disappointing for these enterprising nations, but nonetheless, they continued at a feverish pace. The wonder associated with the unknown, and its prospective resources as well as markets were something that fascinated merchants from every part of the globe.

The impact of this expansion is most interesting to Hobswam. There is no doubt that the relationship between the larger exploring and importing countries and the smaller exporting counties was unequal. A smaller nation might live and die by whether or not its sugar crop was purchased by Britain, but if the sugar crop from Cuba disappeared, or suddenly became more expensive, then Britain would simply acquire their sugar from another source, with little inconvenience.

Most interesting to me was how the larger nations viewed the smaller ones; as pathetic savages with backwards cultures who were helpless in the world until these larger countries came along. As these larger countries imported as much as they could, what they exported was their culture, especially their religion. They attempted to spread their god fearing ways as much as possible, and much of this was through fairly questionable methods.

The only question I have is about the cultural export from the smaller countries to the larger ones. They gave their goods, their people, and in many cases their rights, did any of their ideas ever rub off on the larger, more powerful nations?

-Dan Weingart

China's Demise and Empire's Dawn

According to Abu-Lughod, China had everything it needed to become a world empire at the beginning of the 15th century: economy, manpower, technology... What happened? It simply didn't have the will for several reasons. While the merchants were very successful and had a great degree of control over trade, they did not have an intimate relationship with the ruling Chinese elite and thus did not have the governmental power to initiate a total take over. Chinese Confuscianist spirituality and philosophy, furthermore, did not support the entrepreneur mentality and the "real" China was at the time attempting to distance itself from the trade/commerce-centered Mongol Empire. Even if China did muster the will to further and sustain its power as a core empire, perhaps it still wouldn't have occured because external factors such as the Black Death and collapse of other economic sub-systems contributed to its own commercial meltdown, which then could not fund military power.

This power vacuum provided Western powers with the opportunity to step up for the core position. While the British Empire took advantage of this and became the single hegemonic core during the Victorian era, changes were taking place in the later 19th and early 20th centuries -- everything boomed. Population began to soar, technology, industrialization was rapidly progressing, which led to faster communication, travel, and production. Everything and one is suddenly much "closer" and better known. Global economy exists with increasing activity while the rich continue to distance themselves from the poor. Many countries in Europe were now getting a hand in the pot and with the same mentality as the British: governments were now very much involved with economic activity -- they were driving it with the realization the economic power meant political power.

Unlike the rest of the world, Europe was highly literate and increasingly urban. As colonialism continued to develop and spread, it came to be viewed as nations' rights to do so. They viewed themselves as superior to their invaded nations, even seeing it as their obligation to civilized primitive peoples (while stripping their lands of resources and forcing the people to contribute their labor.)

One of the things that particularly interested me was that between 1750 and 1800 the per capita gross national product of first world nations was not substantially different from that of what are now considered third world nations. Somehow I was I've had the impression that "third world" countries were even at that time less economically sound than those of "first world." How did the West become so morally corrupt? Why did the Confuciast way of thinking not spread to the West? How would our current world system be different if it had?

Age Of Empire: Blog 1

Eric Hobsbawm, in The Age of Empire talks about an entirely different period of the global economy than Abu-Lughod in Before European Hegemony. He talks about the period between and around the 17th and 18th centuries, a period where much of the industrialization occurred specifically in Europe. Industrialization aided all aspects of life and changed the way trade worked in the world. The world was “now genuinely global,” one was able to travel places that normally took months in weeks due to advancements in railways and steamships (13). These advancements changed the meaning on exploration. In the past people explored to find new land, but during these centuries exploration turned to competition. The telegraph was also invented during this period, which helped make the world more global. After all these advancements there was a major collapse in the 1870’s, in which agriculture massively suffered. Countries affected most by the spur in industry moved farther and farther away from agriculture, and these countries that moved away mostly became the core countries in world trade. The economic crises during these periods created a major gap between wealthy and poor nations. If a nation could afford technologic advancements, their production and wealth grew exponentially. Hobsbawm then transitioned into the pre-war period (the time between 1875 and 1914) a time known as the “age of empire.” It was during this period that the colonial empire was created, and the state gained in power “at home and abroad.” Imperialists during this period was a positive term, but recently it has developed a negative connotation.

The development of words over time, and how their connotations change is something very interesting to me. Thus the change in the term and meaning of being an imperialist interests me. Another thing I found interesting in this weeks readings is that during the competitions to different places on earth, it was an American who won the race to the North Pole. It was just a really cool fact.

What I would like to know is why in general the countries that became more industrialized became core countries. Countries need farmers, and need agriculture and food, so one would think that the countries with a strong agriculture base would have power in the world system. Please help me figure this out.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Age of Empire Strikes Back (sorry the temptation was just too strong)

I saw other students commenting that Hobsbawn's book is a much more enjoyable to read than Abu-Lughod and I wholeheartedly agree. The introduction especially was beautifully written, poetic and thought-provoking. It has been pounded into my head in creative writing classes to start small, with something that the reader can really clearly picture in their head, something they can relate to. A person, an object, a single action or event. Hobsbawn's story of James Joyce's mother was the perfect way to ease us into his book about that mysterious ambiguous cloud of an idea called globalization.

There's a reason why war movies are more than just battle scenes and different rooms full of politicians and army generals discussing strategy. If you're going to show the army general discussing strategy, you show him going home to his three-story house with the mahogany-paneled walls and kissing his his pretty blue-eyed wife who is wearing a dark-green silk dress and a freshwater-pearl necklace for the fancy dinner party she just attended and who tells him she just found out she is pregnant and his face hardens in anger because he does not want to bring a child into a world that is this full of hate and violence.

Hobsbawn is an eloquent writer who expresses his ideas clearly, but sometimes I find myself longing for more scene, for another James-Joyce-mom, for real people with feelings I can relate to, for psychology.

Hobsbawn shifts back and forth talking about this country or that, and the growing economy, and how technology in the Western world really pushed it forward, and how the "global society" was not one society but firmly divided into the two types of countries and cultures, the "developed and the lagging, the dominant and the dependent, the rich and the poor" (p16)-- technologically-advanced England vs. backwards horse-n-cart India, central-governmented Spain vs. hereditary-Banner-system China, etc. It makes sense, but he's skimming along up in the clouds summarizing everything that's happening in the world during this time and I just want to see something concrete, a real person, someone I can relate to.

My favorite parts of this book so far (apart from the introduction, which set my standards for Hobsbawn's renegade-historianism high and then proceeded to slowly bring them back to reality) has been the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The quotes are wonderful because they bring us right smack in the middle of the time period, seeing into the minds of real people who were there, what they were saying and thinking. I actually skipped ahead through the whole book reading all the quotes at the beginning of the chapters. Then I looked at the pictures. Pictures are always nice. Why can't there be more pictures? Oh if only all college textbooks were like the picture books we read in elementary school, getting a degree would be that much more fun.

"This was the classic age of massive missionary endeavor" writes Hobsbawn (p71), as he describes the various countries that were subjected to missionary colonization and indoctrination and how this related to race and class issues and how Europeans felt about their mental superiority over the "barbarians."

"The novelty of the nineteenth century," Hobsbawn continues, "was that non-Europeans and their societies were increasingly, and generally, treated as inferior, undesirable, feeble and backward, even infantile." (p79) I mean, this is good stuff. That's a great sentence, well-written, powerful. He's a good writer! And now, intuitively, I am craving for him to continue this thought and give a specific example of how non-Europeans were considered "infantile." I want to hear about one European person's experience as a missionary in a Third World Country, or one person in a Third World Country being talked to by missionaries and assaulted by all these strange new ideas about God and Morality. Or a quote, maybe, like in the beginnings of the chapters, a nice quote from some literature of the time proving this distorted, patronizing view of the "barbarians."

But he plows right on: "They were fit subjects for conquest, or at least conversion to the values of the only real civilization..." He does mention a few specific examples: "Did the sophistication of imperial Peking prevent the western barbarians from burning and looting the Summer Palace more than once?" That's sort of what I want's just so brief. He just has so much information that he's taking from all over the world over the course of a period of a half-century and he's zooming all around all haphazardly across dozens and hundreds of different calender years and countries and significant people and cultural advancements and economic turns at such a breakneck speed and I kind of want to relax and hang out and just watch just one person, or one country, or one economic development in that country, for a couple pages.

In tenth grade I went on a special Latin-class trip to Europe, with this crazy discount "see a bunch of different places in Europe in a week!" travel package that was still really expensive and I have no idea why my parents paid for it. In a week we saw three different cities in Spain, four in France, and three in Italy. After a while all the cities started to blur together and I was so jet-lagged and tired from walking around all the time and half the time I couldn't even remember what city I was in because we were riding buses and planes all the damn time and sometimes didn't even stay in one city for more than a few hours.

And eventually I gathered that running around all frantically trying to see all the "significant" sights and "important" places in a city doesn't really teach you anything about what it's really like to live there. To really learn what a certain city or culture is like it's best to, well, live there. For as long as possible. I hated Pittsburgh when I first got here. I thought it was ugly and I hated the Steelers. Four years later I love this damn city and consider it my home away from home, but it took living here to really find all it's small, subtle charms.

This is a roundabout metaphor for this book and this method of talking about history. Maybe it is just my personal taste but I would really rather read a story about an young man from Britain who goes to live in India in 1892 to learn about the effects of colonization and the British Empire's expansionism and colonization practices, than read a bunch of facts about it. I know that we are learning about world systems and you have to go big picture for that, but is there a happy medium between learning about how everything was happening to everyone all at once and how all this stuff happening affected individuals?

-Katie Dempsey

Age of Empire 1

The first couple of chapters of Hobsbawm detail the rapid industrial, economic, and population growth of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The world of the late 19th century was increasingly global, as most regions of the world had been mapped out and the necessity for discovery was no longer present save interior regions of Africa, Asia, and South America. Vast improvements in technology and communication served as driving forces behind the rapid globalization. In addition, there were simply just more people. Many of these people immigrated to the “younger” regions of the world, like the Americas and some of the other “colonies.” As population size increased and the undiscovered regions of the world decreased, the world was seemingly becoming more tightly bound. While this bond was true in a geographic and perhaps demographic sense, a large gap was rapidly forming between the “West,” which was experiencing economic and industrial revolution, and the rest of the world. In fact, “the per capita GNP was…about seven times as high [comparing the West and the Third World] in 1913.” Another reason for this disparity is major differences in technology that were exploited not only within economic advancements but politically through military force. Perhaps the most notable difference between advanced and backward countries was cultural, as major distinctions revealed themselves through educational, political, and other forms of intellectual life.

Despite the rapid growth in population, industry, and the overall economy, there is also a valid argument for a global depression taking place during this time. There was a noticeable decline in prices, profits, and interest rates, especially in areas like agriculture, which suffered at the expense of free trade. Many countries thus turned to protectionist policies, with the notable exception of Great Britain, which lacked a large peasant class to reinforce protectionism and also had a massive investment in worldwide trade through their colonial empire. These developments were only a few of many transformations of the economy, including mass production and distribution, growth of the commercial sector, and the fusion of economics and politics.

This contrast between the two sectors of the world is fascinating because of how rapidly the gap evolved between developed countries and the third world. Europe, as we know, was once a developing region within the world system. Now, a few centuries later, it stood at the forefront of the world economy. Additionally interesting was the development of global competition as other countries rose to power. In the thirteenth century world system, no one power dominated another as all were interdependent within the trade structure. By the nineteenth century, advanced transportation and communication had led to increased globalization. As a result, the world was no longer interdependent but rather very competitive, eventually leading to the First World War.

A topic I would like to discuss more is the contradictory effects of capitalism, as it successfully fueled some economies while left many others searching for alternatives. Capitalism by its very nature is international, as it relies on an international division of labor to facilitate free trade. Why did an international system not work in an increasingly international world?

Conclusion of Before European Hegemony

The book has come to a conclusion and it traced the rise of a world system from the end of the twelfth to the beginning of the fourteenth century. It goes on to say that the system was not global, since it did not include the Americas or Australia. Although it still represented a system larger than the world has previously known. The system was extremely uneven, only integrating into world cities elevated above rural areas and open stretches. This was not a unique situation for the thirteenth century. This thirteenth century international trade was substantially more complex in organization, greater in volume, and more sophisticated in evolution than any thing else the world so far has seen. It wasnt until the development of the steamship in the nineteenth century did the shape of the world system dramatically alter. No particular culture seemed to dominate the thirteenth century. There wasn't any dominate religion either or values that was upheld in the thirteenth century.
I find it interesting that there was so much diversity in the thirteenth century to the point that there was no definite cultural trend that dominated the century. I wouldn't expect people to be so opinionated and diverse and to publicly show that around this time.
My question is why do you think there wasn't a dominate religion during this century? What aspects of this era could account for that?

China's Collapse

China in the late 14th and 15th century was by far the most extensive, populous, and technologically advanced region of the medieval world. China’s role as a core in the old world system would have led many to believe that China would become the new core of the world system. Why then did China’s reversal of roles in the world system occur? There is a multitude of reasons but a few key ones are external issues, religious ideology, economic collapse, and collapsing parts of the world system.
China led the world to believe they were not interested trade, yet they most actively participated. Instead, the best way to view one of China’s reasons for withdrawal is their changing views in trade. This is directly linked to Confucianism, which did not have an importance for entrepreneurship. Thus, when China views did favor trade their technological advances such as the sluice gate, paper, siderurgy, put them far ahead in the world system. China falls in and out of public trading due to their religious ideology, then resumes in the fourteenth century by taking over the Indian Ocean. They built an unrivaled navy at the time and had no problem controlling the Indian Ocean.
The conquering of the Indian Ocean, with an unrivaled navy, seemed to make China almost in complete hegemonic control. Their policy quickly changed and they withdrew and terminated their relations with the world. It is clear at this point China has everything it needs to be the hegemonic power in the new world system. China’s withdrawal in the Indian Ocean left a “vacuum” of power to be filled, not to mention its merchants with no state support. This most likely led to economic problem as the merchants could no longer privately further their interests. The key reason behind this is Ming sought to reestablish symbols of authenticity from the past Mongol invaders, to do this they strayed away from the Mongols open trade and pursued confunsianism.
The reversal of China’s position is also related to external factors like the Black Death that decimated China and the war to rebel against the weaken Mongols led China to diminish in power. After, their power was restored from the Black Death; the massive fleet eventually could no longer be supported, mainly due to economic collapse, but also due to the collapse of other parts of the world system. Their economic downfall can also be contributed to corruption, political factions, and larger expenditures then revenue. This ultimately led to the collapse of China’s nearly hegemonic state into fifteen smaller regions.
Again, the question of why did China’s reversal of roles in the world system occur? Economic Collapse, Confucian ethic, desires to separate themselves from the Mongols, and the collapsing parts of the world system led to their reversal. Once powerful and united, China opened up the door for the emergence of a new power, the West. The Portuguese men of war easily took over the Indian Ocean after vacation of the Chinese, and offered all that the Chinese could not to the Arab merchants solidifying the West’s emergence in the new world system. China’s reversal in roles, I feel, did not have to occur, but then again history is said to repeat itself. Any thoughts?

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.

Age of Empire Post 1

This week’s readings in The Age of Empire by Eric Hobsbawm, focus on the transformation and growth of society from 1875 until 1914. The author makes it clear in the overture that his book title refers to “Imperialism, as Lenin called it” and describes a world which we can never return to—liberal bourgeois society. Hobsbawm begins Chapter One, the Centenarian Revolution, by explaining a new “global” world that emerged in the late 19th century. For example, railroads and steamships made intercontinental and transcontinental travel much quicker, a matter of weeks rather than months. Populations, too, were growing rapidly; therefore, the world’s numbers were growing but its geography was shrinking. But something else was growing—the gap between developed and non developed countries; the gap between the rich and poor in the world. Although Hobsbawm says compared to modern times the gap was relatively small, by 1913 the per capita GNP of developed countries was seven times that of “the third world”. Hobsbawm continues by describing the industrialization processes of many regions such as Europe and Russia. Although Europe was still ahead of America in production and capital, he claims it was extremely clear that the United States would become a world economic power. Transitioning into chapter two, the author describes the fail in the economy by the 1870s. For instance, the level of British prices dropped by forty percent. There was no other period so harmful to the world economy than 1873-1896 in this new industrialized world. Again moving on, the author highlights important issues during this time period, for example, a tendency toward monopoly, territorial expansion, protectionism, and multiple social tensions that burst in different parts of the world, and most importantly, the growing interconnection of global economy and politics. This caused a large change in the theory of capitalism; it was now hard to distinguish between what was economic policy and what was political. Lastly, Hobsbawm demonstrates the impact of the West on the rest of the world, economically and politically.

I really enjoyed this book more than Abu-Lughod. I felt it was more organized, clear, and easier to read. I found the part about mass education in the developing countries very fascinating. The author briefly describes European dominance of the education system in many underdeveloped countries and the concept of the “essentially secular university”. There is only one paragraph about this topic and I would have like to have seen more about it. The only question I have is: was the world at this point as globally connected as he describes? Yes, lines of communication and trade were much faster and efficient, but in some sections he writes as though in the early 20th century, the world was as connected as in modern times.

The Age of the Empire: Europe and American Hegemony

The Age of the Empire first examines the changes that occurred from the eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century in the growing global economy. Both the American and French Revolution took place in the late nineteenth century, and were celebrated by the countries’ educated citizens who competed for global dominance. At this time, the Declaration of Independence had already been signed, the world’s first iron bridge was constructed, railway and steamship routes were mapped and intercontinental, a telegraph could circle the globe in hours, and the world was being traveled in unprecedented numbers by citizens. Advanced communication, infrastructure, and transportation technology was at an all time high, and was making the world geographically smaller and more global.
This transport of people across country lines not only made the world appear a ‘smaller’ place, but also made it demographically larger and created divisions, especially in terms of wealth, among peoples. In the nineteenth century, there was an evident gap between western, industrialized countries and ‘third world’ countries. By 1913, for example, the per capita share of the GNP was seven times as high in industrialized countries compared with third world countries. This gap was due largely in part to the research and technology that already wealthy nations were able to develop. Nations like America and Europe were able to finance science and research, which put them ahead of other nations in terms of communication and technology, and further extended their hegemonic position in the global world. In the 19th century, America was gaining power and Europe was the dominating hegemony. With this dominating powers in one category, the global system as a whole became divided into two sectors: the developed world and the dependent, poor world. The developed, industrialized world was much smaller than the ‘second world,’ and was united by history; whereas the dependent second world nations were united by their relations with the first world.
There was a clear existence of two distinct sectors in the world economy, however the boundaries that divided them were unclear. For example, Europe was a dominating power and undeniably hegemonic towards the late nineteenth century. Despite this, however, there were countries within the continent that lagged behind developed Europe. North-western and central Europe were at the core of world capitalist development, whereas Eastern Europe most specifically was in the ‘backwaters’ and on the margins of the core of capitalist economic development. Do you believe that it was this separation in Europe that lead to its demise as the hegemonic power in the twentieth century to America?
Through much of the 18th and 19th century many countries could be considered second world. Many countries that are considered 1st world today were 2nd or 3rd world countries in the 19th century. Event those countries considered first world often had large areas which certainly weren't. Austria although considered a core country due to its location in Europe had many disparities. For instance, some parts in the northern country had an 88 percent illiteracy rate compared to a 11 percent rate in the southern parts.
Technology and industrialization was a major reason some countries significantly developed while others lagged behind. More powerful countries were able to develop technologies and improve industrial out put leading to increased power and conquering ability. While core countries drastically increased their population, industrial output, and power poorer countries fell behind at at an extremely fast rate. Between 1800 and 1900 Europe's power more than doubled from 200 million to 430 million while America's population increased from a mere 30 million to 160 million. As core countries developed, second and third world countries fell making the division in between them even greater.
I found it interesting how some countries advanced just as other countries fell deeper into the periphery. Prior to the 18th century hegemons and core countries were much less defined. I think technology and rapid industrialization was the most important factor in core countries' success. Without industrialization occurring at the fast pace it did i wonder would other countries have more of a chance to catch up.

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?