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The American Revolution marked a decisive political change but was a conservative movement in the effect that is sought to preserve existing liberties of colonies rather than creating new ones.
Until the mid-18th Century almost no one in the colonies thought of breaking away from England because participation in the British Empire provided many advantages like protection in war, access to British markets, and confirmation of their continuing identity as “Englishmen”.
It didn’t grow out of social tensions but rather from an effort by the British government to tighten its control over the colonies and extract more revenue from them.
Slavery was gradually abolished from the Northern states, but remained firmly entrenched in the Southern states.
In the century that followed independence, the United States did become the world’s most democratic country.
The new U.S. constitution was one of the first sustained efforts to put the political ideas of Enlightenment into practice.
Slavery, widely practice and little condemned since the beginnings of civilization, lost its legitimacy and was largely ended. In this amazing process, the ideas and practices of the Atlantic revolutions played an important role.
Enlightenment thinkers became critical of slavery as a violation of the natural rights of every person, and the pronouncements of the Atlantic revolutions focused on a breach of those principles.
To them, slavery was, “repugnant to our religion and a crime in the sight of God.”
In this view, slavery was out of date, unnecessary in the new era of industrial technology and capitalism.
Growing numbers of the British public felt that slavery was, “not only morally wrong and economically inefficient, but also politically unwise.”
The end of Atlantic slavery during the 19th century marked a major turn in the world’s social history and in the moral thinking of humankind.
The reluctance of former slaves to continue working on plantations created labor shortages and set in motion a huge wave of global migration.
American industrialization began in the textile industry of New England during the 1820s but grew explosively in the half century following the Civil War.
The country’s huge size, ready availability of natural resources, its growing domestic market, and relative political stability combined to make USA the leading industrial power by 1914.
Tax breaks, huge grants of public land to railroad companies, laws enabling easy formation of corporations, and absence of overt regulation of industry all fostered the rise of very large business enterprises.
The U.S. also pioneered techniques of mass production, using interchangeable parts, the assembly line, and scientific management to produce a mass market.
Henry Ford produced the Model T at a price that many ordinary people could afford and then proclaimed, “ I am going to democratize the automobile.”
The country’s remarkable economic growth generated on average a higher standard of living for American workers than their European counterparts experience.
Land was cheaper, and home ownership more available.
Chapter 18: Industrialization and Revolution in Russia
Russia remained the sole outpost of absolute monarchy, in which the state exercised far greater control over individuals and society than anywhere in the Western world.
Change was more often initiated by the state itself, in its continuing efforts to catch up with the more powerful and innovative states of Europe.
Beginning in the 1860s, Russia began a program of industrial development, which was heavily directed by the state.
It focused primarily on railroads and heavy industry and was fueled by a substantial amount of foreign investment.
By 1900, Russia ranked 4th in the world in steel production and had major industries in coal, textiles, and oil.
A growing class of middle class businessmen and professional took shape.
A 13hr working day was common until 1897.
By 1914 Russia stood 5th in the world in total overall output.
The enormous hardships of WWI coupled with the immense social tensions of industrialization sparked the Russian Revolution in 1917.
That massive upheaval quickly brought to power the most radical of the socialist groups in the country- the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin
Only in Russia was industrialization associated with violent revolution, and this was the most distinctive feature of Russia’s modern historical development.
Chapter 19: New Motives, New Means of European Industry
The enormous productivity of industrial technology and Europe’s growing affluence now created the need for extensive raw materials and agricultural products.
The demand for a wide variety of products radically changed patterns of economic and social life in the countries of origin.
European investors often found it more profitable to invest their money abroad then at home.
What made imperialism so broadly popular in Europe was the growth of mass nationalism.
Colonies and spheres of influence abroad became a symbol of “Great Power” status, and their acquisition was a matter of urgency, even if they possessed little immediate economic value.
The industrial era made overseas expansion more desirable and urgent, while simultaneously providing a new means of achieving those goals
During this age, Europeans developed a sort of secular arrogance that fused with or in some cases replaced their notions of religious superiority.
By the middle to end of the 19th century, the Ottoman empire was no longer able to deal with Europe from a position of equality, let alone superiority and among the great powers of the west it became known as the “Sick Man of Europe.”
Once viewed as the “Sword of Islam”, the Ottoman Empire was unable to prevent region after region from falling under the control of Christian powers.
Their own domains shrank considerably at the hands of Russian, British, Austrian, and French aggression.
Beyond territorial losses, other parts of the empire, such as Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and romania achieved independence based on their own surging nationalism and support from the British and Russians.
Competition from cheap European goods hit Ottoman artisans hard and led to urban riots protesting foreign imports.
Foreign consuls could grant these privileges to Ottoman citizens, and hundreds of thousands of them received this privileged status, which effectively removed them from Ottoman control and greatly enhanced European penetration of the Ottoman economy.
Chapter 19: The Rise of a New East Asian Power
Japan joined the club of imperialist countries by creating its own East Asian empire, largely at the expense of China.
Japan demonstrated that modernity was not uniquely a European phenomenon.
Based on their own military power and political skills, successive shoguns gave Japan more than two centuries of internal peace.
Centuries of peace contributed to a remarkable burst of economic growth, commercialization, and urban development.
By 1750, Japan had perhaps the world’s most urbanized country, with about 10% of its population living in sizable towns or cities.
Entrepreneurial peasants, using fertilizers and other agricultural innovations, grew more rice than ever before and engaged in a variety of rural manufacturing enterprises as well.
“ No more shall we have to live by the sword”, declared a Japanese Samurai, “I have seen that great profit can be made honorably, I shall brew sake and soy sauce, and we shall prosper.”
Colonial rule affected the lives of its subject people in many ways, but the most pronounced change was in their ways of working.
Subsistence farming diminished as growing numbers directed at least some of their energies to working for wages or selling what they produced for a cash income.
That money was both necessary to pay their taxes and school fees and useful for buying the various products that the industrial economies of Europe sent their way.
Many of the new ways of working that emerged during the colonial era derived directly from the demands of the colonial state.
The most obvious new way of working was required and unpaid labor on public projects, such as building railroads, constructing government buildings, and transporting goods.
Private companies in the Congo, operating under the authority of the state, forced villagers to collect rubber, which was much in demand for bicycle and automobile tires, with a reign of terror and abust that cost millions of lives.
Chapter 20: Identity and Cultural change through Education
For an important minority, it was the acquisition of Western education, obtained through missionary or government schools, that generated a new identity.
To previously illiterate people, the knowledge of reading and writing of any kind often suggested an almost magical power.
Education meant access to better paying positions in government, mission organizations, or business firms and to the exciting imported goods that their salaries could now buy.
Moreover, education often provided social mobility and elite status within their own communities and an opportunity to achiever or at least approach equality with whites in racially defined societies.
European education was an instrument of progress and liberation from the stranglehold of tradition.
Europeans though generally declined to treat their Asian and African subjects- even with a Western education- as equal partners in the enterprise of renewal.
Chapter 20: Identity and Cultural change through Religion
Religion too provided the basis for new or transformed identities during the colonial era.
Most dramatic were those places where widespread conversion to Christianity took place, such as New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and especially non-Muslim Africa.
The attractions of new faith were many.
Christianity was widely associated with modern education, and especially in Africa, mission schools were the primary providers of Western education.
The young, poor, and many women found new opportunities and greater freedom in some association with missions.
As elsewhere, Christianity in Africa soon became Africanized.
To Swami Vivekananda, a revised Hinduism offered a means of uplifting the country’s village communities, which were the heart of Indian civilization.
“ Now is the time to work so that India’s spiritual ideas may penetrate deep into the West.”
This new notion of Hinduism provided a cultural foundation for emerging ideas of India as a nation.
Since the defeat of Napolean in 1815, a fragile balance of power had generally maintained peace among Europe’s major countries.
This balance was expressed in two alliance:
Triple Alliance: Germany, Austria, Italy
Triple Entente: Russia, France, Britain
A minor incident in the Balkans transformed these alliances into a conflagration that consumed all of Europe.
A serbian nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Germany was Austria’s ally, and Russia was Serbia’s ally who was also connected with France and Britain.
These alliances of peace drew the powers of Europe into a general war by early August 1914.
The system of alliances made Europe pron to that kind of accident.
Also contributing to the war was an industrialized militarism
Each of the major states had developed elaborate “war plans” spelling out in great detail what should occur upon the outbreak of war.
Such plans created a hair-trigger mentality, since each country had an incentive to strike first so that its strategy could be implemented on schedule and without interruption or surprise.
The United States, after initially seeking to avoid involvement, joined the war when German submarines threatened American shipping.
Thus the war, though centered in Europe, had global dimensions and certainly its familiar title as “world war”
Chapter 21: Legacies of WWI, the Great Depression
The most influential change of the postwar decades lay in the Great Depression.
On the day that the American stock market crashed (10/4/1929) eleven Wall Street financiers committed suicide.
Banks closed, and many people lost their life’s savings.
Investment dried up, world trade dropped by 62% within a few years.
The worst feature of this was the loss of work. Unemployment soared everywhere, and in both Germany and the United States it reach 30% or more by 1932.
Much as Europe’s worldwide empires had globalized the war, so too its economic linkages globalized the Great Depression.
The U.S. response to the depression came in the form of Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was a complex tangle of reforms intended to restore pre-Depression prosperity and to prevent future calamities.
It sought to prime the pump of the economy and thus reduce unemployment.
New Deal’s longer-term reforms, such as the Social Security system, the minimum wage, and various relief and welfare programs, attempted to build an economic floor which the poor, the unemployed, and elderly could not fall.
Ultimately none of the New Deal’s programs worked very well to end the Great Depression.
Chapter 21: WWII, The Outcomes of Global Conflict
The second world war was the most destructive conflict in world history, with total deaths estimated around 60 million (6 times that of WWI).
More than half were civilians as their was an almost complete blurring of the traditional line between civilian and military targets, as entire cities and whole populations came to be defined as the enemy.
Among the most haunting outcomes of the war was the Holocaust.
Some 6 million Jews perished in a technologically sophisticated genocide that set a new standard of human depravity and has haunted the world’s conscience ever since.
A further outcome of WWI lay in the consolidation and extension of the communist world.
In the decades that followed, Soviet authorities nurtured a virtual cult of the war.
Communist parties took power all across Eastern Europe, pushing the communist frontier deep into the European heartland.
The horrors of the two world wars prompted a renewal interest in international efforts to maintain the peace in a world of competing and sovereign states. The chief outcome was the United States (UN), established in 1945 as a successor to the moribund League of Nations.
Chapter 22: Russian path to Communism through Revolution
The revolution was hitched the notion that new and better worlds could be constructed by human actions in the vision of modernizing future.
Russian revolution was made by a highly organized party guided by a Marxist ideology and was committed to an industrial future.
Grassroots organizations of workers and soldiers, known as “soviets”, emerged to speak for ordinary people.
This was social revolution and it quickly demonstrated the inadequacy of the Provisional government, which had come to power after the tsar abdicated.
Impatience and outrage against provisional government provided an opening for more radical groups, the most effective of these were the Bolsheviks who were led by Lenin.
A 3 year civil war took place as the Bolsheviks, now calling themselves “communists”, battled an assortment of enemies who were determined to crush their party, but remarkably they held on to victory by 1921.
Shortly after the Civil War they renamed their country the Union of Soviet Republics and set about its transformation.
For the next 25 years the Soviet Union remained a communist island in a capitalist sea.
Chapter 22: Communism and Industrial Development
Communists everywhere were ardent modernizers.
The Chinese communists, in 1950, largely followed the model pioneered by the Soviets in the 20s and 30s, which involved state ownership of property, centralized planning, priority to heavy industry, massive mobilization of the nation’s human and natural resources, and intrusive communist party control of the entire process.
Both countries experience unprecedented economic growth.
In addition both countries achieved massive improvements in their literacy rates and educational opportunities, which allowed far greater social mobility for millions of people than ever before.
Some other social outcomes were:
Rapid urbanization, exploitation of the countryside to provide for modern industry in the cities, and the growth of a privileged bureaucratic and technological elite intent on pursuing their own careers and passing on their new status to their children.
In the mid-1960s Mao Zedong of China launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to combat the capitalist tendencies that he believed had penetrated even the highest ranks of the Communist Party.
The Communist era came to an end far more rapidly and peacefully then it came into power in the last to decades of the 20th Century.
It occurred in three different acts:
Act 1: late 1970s in China, following the death of its towering revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.
Act 2: in the miracle year of 1989, when popular movements toppled despised communist governments one after another all across the region.
Act 3: In 1991, in the Soviet Union where the entire play had opened 74 years earlier. Gorbachev was in power and intended to revive and save Soviet socialism from its accumulated dysfunctions. Those efforts only exacerbated the countries many difficulties and led to its political disintegration on Christmas day of ‘91.
The communist countries by the late 70s showed no signs of catching up to the more advanced capitalist economies.
The horrors of the Stalin terror and the gulag, of Mao’s Cultural revolution all wore away the communist claims to moral superiority over capitalism.
Much as the Russian and Chinese revolutions differed and their approaches to building socialism diverged, so too did these communist giants chart distinct paths during the final years of the communist era.
Chapter 23: The End of Empire in World History
Decolonization signaled the declining legitimacy of both empire and race as credible bases for political or social life. It promised not only national freedom but also personal dignity, abundance, and opportunity.
The novel idea that humankind was naturally divided into distinct peoples or nations, each of which deserved an independent state of its own was loudly proclaimed by the winning side of both world wars.
The powerful force of nationalism, having earlier driven the process of european empire building, now played a major role in its disintegration.
Colonial rule in this argument dug its own grave.
The world wars had weakened Europe, while discrediting any sense of European national superiority.
The United Nations provided a platform from which to conduct anticolonial agitation.
Second and third generation western educated elites in these places were thoroughly familiar with European culture and were deeply aware of the gap between its values and practices, and no longer view colonial rule as a vehicle for people’s progress as their fathers had.
Before the 20th Century few of its people thought of themselves as Indians.
The most important political expression of an all-Indian identity took shape in the Indian National Congress (INC), which was an association of English-educated drawn overwhelmingly from regionally prominent hight-caste ties.
They initially sought to gain inclusion within the political, military, and business life of British India.
It was initially an elite organization, but after WW1 that changed.
One of the leaders of this independence movement was Mahatama Gandhi who rose to leadership in the INC and practiced a nonviolent approach to political protest called satyagraha (truth force)
His conduct and actions appealed widely in India and transforem the INC into a mass organization.
He opposed modern industrial future for his country, seeking instead a society of harmonious self-sufficient villages drawing on ancient Indian principles of duty and morality.
The most serious threat to a unified movement in India derived from the growing divide between the country’s Hindu and Muslim population.
With great reluctance and amid mounting violence, Gandhi and the Congress party finally agreed to partition as the British declared their intention to leave India after WWII.
Thus Colonial India became independent in 1947 as two countries- a Muslim Pakistan and a Hindu India.
Chapter 23: Ending the Apartheid in South Africa
The struggle in South Africa wasn’t for the end of colonial rule as that was granted from Great Britain in 1910.
The independence though was granted to a government wholly controlled by a while settler minority where the countries black African majority had no political rights whatever within the central state.
The prominence of race expressed in the policy of apartheid, which attempted to separate blacks from whites in every conceivable way while retaining their labor power in the white-controlled economy.
During the 1950s, Nelson Mandela broadened the base of support for the African National Congress (ANC) and launched nonviolent civil disobedience all of which were similar actions to and inspired by Gandhi thirty years earlier.
Beyond growing internal pressure, South Africa faced a mounting international demand to end the apartheid as well.
A variety of responses came via exclusion from most international sporting events, including the Olympics; the refusal of many artists to perform there; economic boycotts; the withdrawal of investment funds.
This internal and external pressure led to the abandonment of key apartheid policies, the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, and the legalization of the ANC.
South Africa, unlike India, acquired its political freedom as an intact and unified state.
The process of reglobalization was expressed in the accelerating circulation of goods, capital, and people.
Money as well as goods achieved an amazing global mobility in three ways:
First, foreign direct investment whereby a firm in, say, the United States opens a factory in China or Mexico. This gave companies in rich countries an opportunity to take advantage of cheap labor and tax breaks.
Second, a form of money in motion has been the short-term movement of capital, in which investors annually spent trillions of dollars purchasing foreign currencies or stocks likely to increase in value and often sold them quickly thereafter, with unsettling consequences.
Third, a form of capital movement involved the personal funds of individuals.
The introduction of Transnational Corporations (TNCs), which produce goods or deliver services simultaneously in many countries.
The size of many of these TNCs dwarfed entire countries economies.
More then ever workers too were on the move in a rapidly globalizing world economy.
These flows of migrating laborers often represented a major source of income to their home countries.
They also provided an inexpensive source of labor for their adopted countries.
Chapter 24: Feminist Movements, Globalization of Liberation
No expression of the global culture of liberation held a more profound potential than feminism, for it represented a rethinking of the most fundamental and personal of all human relationships- that between man and woman.
A book was published in France that argued that women had historically been defined as “other”, or deviant from the “normal” male sex.
French feminists dramatized their concerns publicly, “Someone is even more unknown than a soldier: his wife.”
In USA, the women’s liberation approach took broader aim at the patriarchy as a system of domination, similar to those of race and class.
Thus liberation for women meant becoming aware of their own oppression.
Many such women preferred direct action rather than the political lobbying, insisting that free love, lesbianism, and celibacy should be accorded the same respect as heterosexual marriage.
Whereas white women might find the family oppressive, African American women viewed it as a secure base from which to resist racism.
Chapter 24: The Global Environment Transformed
Underlying the environmental changes of the twentieth century were three other factors impacted the human impact on the earth’s ecological systems:
First, the explosion of human numbers, an unprecedented quadrupling of the world’s population in a single century.
Second, the new ability of humankind to tap the energy potential of fossil fuels.
Third, these new sources of energy made possible phenomenal economic growth as modern science and technology immensely increased the production of goods and services.
Human activity has always altered the natural order, but now the scale of those disruptions assumed global proportions.
The global spread of modern industry created a pall of air pollution in many major cities.
The release of chemicals thus have thinned the ozone layer, which ultimately protects us from excessive ultraviolet radiation.
The most critical and intractable environmental transformation was global warming.
Concern about melting glaciers and polar ice caps, rising sea levels, thawing permafrost, extreme hurricanes, and further species extinctions is growing.
It is clearly a global phenomenon and has prompted a global awareness of the problem