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GH 2015.2: 6 Why Europe?
Transcript of GH 2015.2: 6 Why Europe?
So, what has changed in the world so far?
Picking your time period
Three writers on the topic:
3. When did Spanish and Portuguese imperial power diminish, and why?
During the middle ages, Europeans developed a culture of democratic institutions and a focus on rational, ordered and diligent men. Their efficiency and hard work generated capitalism and industrialisation. This shows that
is the driving force of history - the driving force that makes historical change happen.
- Spanish, English, French and Dutch colonisation of America: settler colonialism to extract minerals, and produce raw materials
Portuguese, Dutch and British trading post empire around Africa and the Indian Ocean: tapping into and controlling existing trade, and amplifying the African slave trade.
Capitalism emerged out of the growing commerce around the Atlantic Ocean (the Triangle Trade)...
The market economy around the Atlantic Ocean manifested in a
culture of capitalism in western Europe, while America developed a plantation culture and Africa a culture focused more on providing slaves than developing other resources.
a culture focused on private enterprise, wage labour for the many and investment for those with the means
The quest for profit in Western Europe, and particularly Britain, led to an increased focus on inventing labour saving devices (machines that make it quicker and easier to produce things), and this sparked the Industrial Revolution.
Industrialisation unleashed previously unfathomable productivity in the populations that experienced it...
Britain industrialised first, western Europe, Japan and America followed in the 19th century.
4. What do these graphs tell us?
The culture of capitalism and its quest for profit sparked the Industrial Revolution
5. Why did this culture of capitalism emerge in Europe only, even though Africa and America too were part of the market economy?
Because Africa supplied only labour, and America only raw materials using forced labour, while Europe manufactured commodities using purchased labour.
1. When and how did the Portuguese begin their imperial expansion?
2. When and how did the Spanish begin their imperial expansion?
From the first couple of decades of the 15th century Portuguese sailors began exploring the African west coast. In 1488 Bartolomeo Diaz rounded Africa and after that the Portuguese established trading posts along the African, South and South-east Asian coasts.
The Spanish began their colonial expansion like the Portuguese, by colonising islands along the African coast (Canary Islands) in the early 1400s, but in 1492 Columbus began colonising the Caribbean, and he was followed by conquistadores who established control over most of the South American continent.
7. When did countries like China, India and many in Africa industrialise, and why was there such a delay?
6. What was the experience of industrial technologies for people in most non-European countries outside Japan in the 19th century?
Most non-Europeans outside Japan experienced industrial technologies through the power they gave Europeans in colonial conflicts.
From 1950 most of the previously non-industrialised world began industrialising: it happened when European colonial powers withdrew after WWII.
- Agrarian economy, self-sufficient economy.
- Capitalist economy around the Atlantic, gradually drawing the rest of the world in, as Europeans extend their colonial influence across the world.
Because of poverty, lack of bullion and lack of interesting consumer goods (sack cloth pants and gruel don't inspire one to get more).
People's mind set was focused on virtue and the afterlife, not self-expression and pleasure through consumption.
- Consumption undesirable and impossible for most people.
- Patchy and uneven levels of commerce (a lot in the Indian Ocean, almost nothing in many other places).
- Most places outside Europe integrate into the emerging global market economy without developing the culture of capitalism for quite some time (just like Africa didn't). This is because most of the world function as provider of raw materials to the market economy, while Europeans turn those raw materials into commodities.
- Europe, America and Japan are all industrialising, while the rest of the world isn't yet.
We haven't yet taken a proper look at the cultural changes, but there have been a few changes taking place:
We have seen lots of this...
The market economy encouraged individual enterprise, investment and wage labour
Industrialisation changed gender roles, perception of time and space.
How did these three things change because of industrialisation?
Factory focused work made it harder for women to participate in the public sphere, the clocks that governed trains and work hours turned time into measured units, and the speed of communication shrank distances.
We will talk more about the cultural changes of this period in two weeks.
The material changes of capitalism, industrialisation and colonial expansion changed the political structure of the societies affected as well.
For European societies the political changes wrought by these developments were profound: giving birth to the nation state and modern democracy. We will return to this after the break.
For the parts of the world that were colonised by Europe and Japan, the experience was one of political dis-enfranchisement. More about this in later weeks.
The first thing to be aware of when looking at this question is that the choice of time period matters.
This unit focuses squarely on the (only) 500 years in which European countries grew to be the most powerful. This skews the story, and if you don't know anything else, it looks like European countries are the only ones to ever flourish, invent, expand...
But they were not:
Islamic Golden Age
Civilisations of the Fertile Crescent
“Between ... 960 and ... 1127, China passed through a phase of economic growth that was unprecedented in earlier Chinese history, perhaps in world history up to this time. It depended on a combination of commercialization, urbanization, and industrialization that has led some authorities to compare this period in Chinese history with the development of early modern Europe six centuries later.”
Philip D. Curtin In Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 109; as quoted in David Northrup, “Globalization and the Great Convergence: Rethinking World History in the Long Term,” Journal of World History 16, no. 3 (2005): 258.
We know that iron and coal mining were both crucial to the English industrialisation - they were needed to make and run the steam engine, and it was in the mining of both of these that the technological developments that created the steam engine were made.
Well, the Chinese invented the iron and coal refining that the industry relied on...
800(ish) to 1100 (ish)
The Muslim world was politically united, and flourished culturally and scientifically.
- Achievements in philosophy, including translation and analysis of Aristotle and Plato.
- Research in chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, map making.
- Freedom of thought and expression.
- Hospitals requiring license, first degree granting university (University of Al Karaouine)...
You recall this guy:
- Domestication of animals 10,000 and 13,000 years ago.
- Cultivation of grains (also independently in other places).
- Soil development (making the soil better).
- Development of writing (ca 3600 BC).
- First cities (Uruk - 3200 BC).
It is easy to think that Europeans did something completely new in human history when their activities generated capitalism and industrialisation.
But Europeans were benefiting from the achievements that other civilisations had accomplished in centuries past: without the technologies from China, and the scientific advances from the Muslim world, it wouldn't have happened.
But the Europeans were not exceptional: they were standing on the shoulders of giants..
If you isolate the particular 500 years we are looking at here, it looks like it was all about Europeans...
And they were dependent on
the peoples of the world they had colonised for labour and raw materials.
Why does this matter?
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Europeans explained their own economic and military power and success with theories about the racial inferiority of non-Europeans. We have seen some of this in the justifications for enslavement of African men and women in America.
As the 19th century came along, scientific discourse (scientific language and argumentation) was used to represent non-Europeans as less developed than Europeans, and incapable to the kind of thinking and acting Europeans thought had caused the emergence of capitalism and industrialisation.
Charles Darwin's study of how animals evolve and adapt through the successful reproduction of specimens with useful characteristics was applied to human societies, races and cultures.
Non-Europeans were represented as at best "not yet there" in terms of development - as children of humanity yet to reach the maturity that Europeans had.
At worst non-Europeans were represented as permanently stuck going down the wrong path of development, one that would eventually lead to the dying out of the most backward races (think about how European colonists usually thought that Aboriginal Australians would die out).
For a long time this was the dominant explanation of why Europe became the world leaders in capitalism and industrialisation: they were just superior to everyone else, who we not clever enough to do it.
So this is the reason it is important to talk about why Europeans managed to become powerful in this period:
To make sure that we address these old racist ideas, and replace them with explanations that hold up to scrutiny, correspond to the empirical evidence and aren't based on racist stereotypes.
Because these stereotypes remain in public discourse (discussion) today, they're not completely gone.
Contemporary theories that try to explain why capitalism and industrialisation first manifested (
meaning showed up, emerged
) in England fall into two broad camps. Those who emphasise the role of fortune -
- and those that emphasise the role of skill -
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Andre Gunder Fank -
reOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age
R. Bin Wong
China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of the European Experience
The world economy existed before Europe joined it, and it was the luck of getting hold of gold and silver in America that allowed Europeans to join and dominate it.
Economy is the driving force of history: economy drives technological and historical change.
China and Europe faced similar problems, but responded differently: Europe with capitalism, China with a hybrid economy where the state still organised much of the economy. This has carried them into the future on different paths: there a many ways to become modern, and not all societies have to do it the European way to be successful (look at China today, for example!). Europe's lead has been exaggerated, basically.
Culture is an important force in creating historical change.
So this is where we're up to: we've got European colonial domination of the America continent and of the trade around the Indian Ocean. We have a new economic system emerging in the Atlantic World, in which people trade not only commodities, but also in labour. This new economic system has generated the industrialisation of Europe, and European states are now racing ahead the rest of the world in terms of living standard, and global influence.
This raises a question..............
Why are we talking soooo much about Europe?!
You remember these things:
This is a review essay
are good for getting
a snapshot of a book's
having to read hundreds
Think of the essay like this: the author of it has been listening in on a conversation between three people around a table. He is now re-capping the three arguments that were offered in the conversation, comparing and contrasting them, and offering his own assessment.
the three argument in short
how the three arguments relate to each other...
This whole page continues the discussion of how the arguments compare to each other.
This page focuses on Landes' argument in detail
The author recaps critique offered against Landes' theory by other scholars: that he isn't theorising the data correctly: he isn't interpreting the data correctly.
Landes' thought Weber was right
Landes' thinks Weber is right:
it was the Protestant values
that made capitalism and industrialisation possible
clarification of what Landes' argument means
In this section the reviewer discusses what he thinks of Landes' argument: offers his own critique.
Gunder Frank's argument in more detail.
Pluck or luck?
The success of Europe relied on the exploitation of America and Africa
Possible critique of Frank: was there a world economy before Europe?
The author's view of Frank's argument
Wong's argument in detail
Describes how Chinese society differed from European culturally
Frank and Landes' both
believe there is only one
way into modernity, while
Wong thinks there are several
different ways of becoming
and being modern.