Vagas de Globalização XII

3.2 The Next Comers: US, Germany, Japan and the Rest

Which are the two diffusion channels of industrialization that Professor Sachs presents?

Were countries subdued to European imperialism able to industrialize rather quickly or did imperialism itself create a barrier for those countries to catch up?

We’re discussing the fifth wave of globalization, the industrial era, roughly from 1800 to our time right now, roughly two centuries. And my point of view is that this is the Anglo-American-led age. The Industrial Revolution begins in England, actually it begins in Scotland to be more precise, in Glasgow University, with James Watt’s improvement of Newcomen’s steam engine.

But it is an English and a British development, and of course, Britain becomes the primary power of the world because it becomes the first modern industrial economy. It becomes overwhelmingly urban, already in the 19th Century. It becomes a powerhouse militarily. Its navy dominates the world’s oceans. And because of the British navy, there is also trade throughout sea lanes of global supply chains reaching around the world.

We can use Angus Maddison’s estimates of output in different parts of the world to get a sense of how dominant the British Empire, and more generally, what I’ll call the Anglo-American world, became because industrialization started within Britain and spread to the British Empire, at least important parts of it, and also to other areas that were either part of the British Empire or closely associated with it.

So for our purposes, I’ll define the British Empire to mean Britain and its colonial possessions, Ireland, India, Egypt and others that were part of the British Empire. And in the broader Anglo-American world, I want to include the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, areas that at some point were part of the British Empire, later on, independent countries, part of the Commonwealth, but what Angus Maddison calls the western offshoots, but what really could be called the British offshoots. If one uses Maddison’s estimates, the British Empire itself as of 1820 had as a share of the world economy around 5% of world output.

Of course, the empire itself was still very limited and Britain as a part of the world economy was still mostly in its pre-industrial era. By 1870, the British Empire is the world leader. By then, India has become part of the British Empire, after 1857. That’s about a quarter of the world’s population. And Britain itself has become the great industrial power.

By 1870 the British Empire is around one-fourth of the whole world output. And if one adds in the growing economies of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, one adds about 10% more of world output. So the Anglo-American world as of 1870 is roughly a third of the total world output. Almost 35% of the total. This share will continue to rise.

The Anglo-American world, especially now powered by a surging North American economy and especially U.S. industrialization after the U.S. Civil War and in the final decades of the 19th Century, means that by 1913, there’s no doubt that the world is an Anglo-American world with about 40% of world output emanating either from the British Empire or from the British offshoots of North America and Oceania, especially the United States.-

As of 1913, Britain was undoubtedly the conductor of this whole Anglo-American orchestra, if you will. I say that because Britain itself was an industrial powerhouse, because the city of London, meaning the financial center, was also the indisputable financial center of the world, because insurance and banking, finance, flows of currency, the central role of the pound sterling were all indisputable.

And one could probably hardly imagine a world in which Britain was not the dominant power. Of course, France had its empire and Germany had a new empire. And the United States, a late-comer after closing the American frontier as it were, meaning pushing the indigenous populations aside and making a continental-scale economy looked out at the end of the 19th century and said, well where can we create an empire?

And quickly decided, we’ll take some of the Spanish colonies, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines and we’ll start our own empire, by golly. And so America began its imperial expansion, as well. Well as of 1913, this Anglo-American world was dominant, but huge changes were of course about to happen, because I pick 1913 as the eve of one of the great cataclysms of history, the onset of World War I, 1914.

And not just World War I and the utter shocking, industrial-scale destruction and loss of life of World War I, unprecedented in history, but all of the disasters that continued after that. Let us instead now return to the 19th Century to ask how does this unfolding of the industrial age look from a more global point of view?

Remember the basic idea, innovation and diffusion. Britain becomes an industrial power. Innovation begins as a British innovation and then it begins to diffuse. On the horizontal axis is the distance of the European countries from London. To calculate this I took the capital cities of other countries of Europe and just took the direct, shortest path from London to capital city.

What is shown on the vertical axis is the year in which that country first surpasses an income threshold of $2000 per person as measured in the system of Angus Maddison, which is a unit of international pricing in 1990 prices. What’s important for our purpose here is that the vertical axis measures basically the calendar year in which each country in Europe begins to take off economically.

All the countries are poor at the start of the industrial age. Britain as well. Then this great set of innovations occurs. Income per capita starts to rise in Britain as the first industrial economy. And as it rises, businesses Britain start looking out and saying, we should invest in our neighborhood, or, we should sell steam engines in France or in Belgium. We should help open up coal mines in other countries. And of course, entrepreneurs in those countries and government officials looking at Britain, say, we’re falling far behind, we need to promote industrialization in our own countries lest we become so weak militarily that we can no longer defend ourselves.

The innovation lifts Britain to unprecedented levels of output per capita and other countries relatively speaking, and so what ensues throughout Europe in the 19th century is a catching-up process. Countries begin to industrialize. They industrialize by attracting investment, by entrepreneurs saying, we’ll develop or take on the factory technology, we’ll buy Watt steam engines. We’ll buy the industrial machinery that is propelling Britain’s industrial revolution. We will innovate because France and Germany and other countries through their own university systems and their commercial enterprises become innovators, realizing that there are now new rounds of technological advance that are possible.

The closer you are to London, the faster is your industrialization. Industrialization proceeds like a spreading wave. Drop a pebble in a still lake and you get a circle, a wave that spreads with a  widening concentric circle. Drop an Industrial Revolution into England and what you get is a spreading wave of industrialization, the first industrializers are the countries closest to Britain. They are Belgium and France and The Netherlands. And then the wave spreads and the next round of countries Germany, for example, northern Italy begin to industrialize.

Then, a generation later, the wave spreads further and the Scandinavian countries begin to industrialize. Spain, which is a laggard, farther away begins to industrialize. Industrialization begins in central Europe, in what is today the Czech Republic and Slovakia. So this fascinating graph shows that proximity, geographical proximity, is a key feature of diffusion of innovation in general; that we’ve known for thousands of years.

And it proved to be a key feature of diffusion of industrialization as well. As that wave spread it spread preferentially to those places with coal, because coal was the energy source for the Industrial Revolution. So Germany, with it’s great coal deposits, became an early industrializer.

Of course, proximity was not the only issue of transformation, there were many other channels by which industrialization could proceed. And many other pathways by which industrialization was blocked.

For example, America, being so close to what was the mother land until very recently, England, sharing a common language, sharing an ancestry, family links, made it possible for many inventors in the United States in the early days of the Republic to take on the industrial innovations of England and begin a very early process of industrialization in the United States. Common language, common cultural, common heritage, shared family, made it possible to have that diffusion. ~

Another way that diffusion worked most rapidly is when the ecological setting of Britain could be found in different areas of the world. Britain is a temperate zone, mid-latitude geography. And it has its wheat farming and barley and other temperate zone crops. Its mixed animal husbandry with a large dairy and beef eating population. So in other places in the world with similar climate and ecology, it was possible to transfer British technological knowhow readily.

And one place that’s notable for that were the countries of Argentina and Uruguay, which though across the Atlantic and in South America, on the other side of the equator are temperate zone economies where it was possible to grow wool, possible to grow cattle, to create a meat industry, and now with the new ocean shipping, possible actually with later technological developments to create refrigerated ocean steamers and create a worldwide meat exporting industry based in the pampas of Argentina with industry financed from London, based in Buenos Aires to create a quite wealthy economy by the end of the 19th Century. One can study the diffusion of the Industrial Revolution worldwide.

And the summary conclusions are first, industrialization spread first in Europe and in the British offshoots: Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand.

Second, advances of income spread most easily where there was a possibility of sharing technology, whether in agriculture or in industry. And so temperate zone settings like Uruguay and Argentina, or New Zealand for massive wool production, were able to become part of the British-made worldwide industrial economy early on.

Most other countries had to wait a long time before they reached the ability to harness the Industrial Revolution. It took ideas, a fertile ground both in the physical, literal sense of adequate agricultural production, often requiring local coal deposits to create local industry because shipping coal until later in the 19th Century was too expensive. And a national leadership that was able and interested in implementing institutional changes to create the groundwork for an Industrial Revolution.

In Asia this happened in precisely one place, in the 19th Century and that is Japan. When Japan was threatened by the military might of the newly industrialized powers of Europe and the United States, when literally the U.S. sent naval vessels into the Tokyo Bay in 1853 to demand concessions from Japan, Japan experienced a rapid political change, really a revolution, where the revolutionary leader said, we will not lose sovereignty, rather we will industrialize.

And Japan invented a kind of catching-up industrialization in a revolutionary manner that goes under the banner of the Meiji Restoration. This is a term for the political change in 1868 which brought to power modernizers of Japan to end the feudal era, open up Japan to the world, but especially, to attract technology and to train Japanese engineers to run Japanese factories, to industrialize Japan. And this succeeded.

Japan became the industrial economy at the end of the 19th Century. So much so that Japan embarked on its own imperial adventures at that point, in winning wars with China and winning wars with Russia in 1905. Becoming the imperial power in what is today’s Taiwan and in Korea, Japan showed its industrial might.

Alas, it seems to go with the territory, get rich and then go out and conquer somebody. But this was the history of so many of the industrial powers in Europe, the United States, Japan during this period. Most of the rest of the world would not industrialize until the 20th Century. Some parts of the world, not even throughout the course of the 20th Century.

One main fact that I want to close with is when regions succumbed to European imperialism so that they were no longer sovereign, no longer masters of their own fate, this almost invariably blocked catching-up growth.

Because when Britain or France or Italy or Portugal or Germany or the United States or Japan became the colonial masters, then the countries that were in the subservient position were not in a position to invest in education, skill-building, or the promotion of industry to compete with the already industrialized powers. So imperial rule which became the rule of the 19th Century for much of the world was itself a fundamental barrier to catching up by the countries that fell under the machinery and the heavy weight of the European imperial powers.

Vagas de Globalização XI

3: The Anglo-American World: 1800-2000

In the third week of the course, Professor Sachs talks about the fifth wave of globalization: the Industrial Revolution or the Anglo-American Revolution. We learn that global transformation during this period happened faster, deeper and more extensively than ever before.

Professor Sachs highlights the development of the steam engine in 1776 as the invention that sparked economic growth and supported population growth during the following 200 years and more. Professor Sachs lists the factors that contributed to Britain becoming the first industrial society. From Britain, industrialization spread to other parts of the world; in this week we look at the channels by which this occurred and at the pathways by which the industrialization process was blocked. Professor Sachs presents the process by which the European imperial period ended and how Britain went from being the greatest imperial power to being the United Kingdom again. World War I and World War II destabilized Europe and imperialism.

The US came to be the largest economy of the world after World War II and a US- led globalization followed. This period was characterized by the spread of decolonization, the diffusion of industrialization to more countries, the acceleration of global output growth. A period of convergence in which the information revolution transformed the whole world economy.

3.1 James Watt Changes the World

What are Kondratiev waves and how are they related to the term “endogenous economic growth”?

Why, according to what Professor Sachs explains, was the existence of patent rights in Britain key to Britain becoming the first industrial economy?

In this module, we’re going to talk about the fifth wave of globalization, the one that created the world we live in, the Industrial Age. This is a period of transformation. Faster, deeper, more extensive than ever before in history. Everything has changed about how we live. Two hundred years ago almost everybody lived in rural areas. Most people were farmers. Almost everybody was poor. Roughly speaking, we can take as our starting point the beginning of the 19th Century.

But I think accurately we might take another date as our real starting point. One could argue that 1776 is the appropriate date. Now if you’re an American, you’d say oh yes, the war of independence, Declaration of Independence and that’s not what I have in mind. If you’re an economist you say, I know what you mean, that’s The Wealth of Nations, the year that Adam Smith’s great book was published.

Well that, that is a good candidate, but that’s actually not what I have in mind. If you’re an historian you’d say, I know what you have in mind, that’s when Gibbon published The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

That’s actually not what I have in mind either. If you are an engineer or an economic historian, you’ll know that this was the year that Boulton and Watt brought James Watt’s steam engine to the marketplace. Around 1776, James Watt developed his steam engine.

And I will argue that this was really the great invention of the Industrial Age, the one that set off 200 years plus now of rapid economic growth, unprecedented in human history and in many ways made the fifth wave of globalization what it is.

When Isaac Newton was asked how he could accomplish his brilliant mind-boggling insight into nature, he explained, if I see farther, it’s because I stand on the shoulder of giants. And one could say that Watt, who is a giant of technological innovation, also stood on the shoulder of others. And one in particular is Thomas Newcomen.

One could say, really invented the steam engine. Not the one, that really made possible the Industrial Revolution, but certainly the one that made possible James Watt’s steam engine less than a century later. Thomas Newcomen was an inventor and a proto-engineer before that term was used, who observed in the early years of the 18th Century, the problem of coal mining shafts filling with water. And so coal mines needing to be pumped of the water so that they could continue to be mined.

And he put his very creative mind to work to create an engine that could pump the water from coal mines. What were coal mines and coal useful for, for Britain? Coal essentially was used for heating at the time. It was burned in the cold climate in the winter months in England. And it was beginning to be used in metallurgy. But ironically, coal became the input for an engine, first to pump water out of coal mines, and then later for everything.

For transportation in locomotives, for industrial development and that’s what made possible the full Industrial Revolution. But I’m getting ahead of the story. Newcomen developed his engine. It was deployed in coal mines.

It wasn’t very efficient. It used a lot of energy. It was not used for other applications. And James Watt, at the university in Glasgow, put his mind to work thinking about how it might possible to make Newcomen’s steam engine more efficient.

Quite brilliantly, Watt made two great innovations to Newcomen’s engine. One was the nature of the translation of steam energy into motion. Watt introduced a rotary motion into a steam engine rather than an alternating beam that Newcomen had used. So a pump that went up and down. Watt introduced rotary, a motion which was fantastic for turning the machinery in factories.

But Watt did something even more important for the history of the world economy and that was he noticed a way to make Newcomen’s steam engine far more energy efficient. Technically, he took the cylinder in which the water was heated to make steam, which pushed the piston, which moved Newcomen’s pump, and he separated a condenser away from the cylinder, so he added what he called a condenser and technically speaking, rather than heating and cooling the cylinder that contained a piston that moves the machinery, he created a way to keep the cylinder hot whereas the condenser was then used to create the vacuum pressure which moved the piston.

And all of the long and the short of it is that Watt made a major advance in energy efficiency, and therefore in the economic returns and the ability commercially to deploy steam power. And around 1776, voila, you’re looking at the Watt steam engine that changed the course of history.

Why am I putting so much emphasis on one invention?

It is absolutely true that the Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to the Industrial Age has many, many pivotal inventions. During the same century between Newcomen and Watt were great developments in metallurgy and how to make steel.

Great advances in the machinery in the textile industry, in spinning yarn and in mechanical weaving, creating machinery for looms and many, many other advances. Until the steam engine could be used to mobilize coal for motion, where did our energy for industry and for transport come from?

For transport, if you were lucky, you rode on a horse or in a carriage pulled by animals. The steam engine broke free of the constraint of animal or human power for transport. It made possible locomotion. It made possible the steam locomotive. It made possible the ocean steamer. It made possible automobiles, even though they subsequently were edge out by the internal combustion engine which was to come about a century after Watt’s invention.

Watt made possible something else. All the clever machinery in the early factories, many of which were turned by waterwheels, or by windmills for grinding, mobilizing energy in the form of wind or falling water somehow now could be mobilized anywhere, even if there wasn’t a river nearby or there wasn’t sufficient wind power nearby by having a steam engine.

And that steam engine could run as long as there was a supply of coal available. Now we had an economical, efficient, round-the-clock source of vast, vast energy potential. And this is what made possible the Industrial Age.

The historians, such as the great British historian Wrigley, says that it’s breaking free of the organic economy to the mineral or fossil fuel-based economy which made industrialization possible. One can see it in the numbers. What we are looking at here is a graph that shows the estimates by macro-historian, Angus Maddison, of the output per person on average worldwide from the beginning of the common era, 1 A.D. up until today, and what you see in the graph is essentially output per person hardly changed century after century after century after century for the 1800 years depicted here.

And then the output per capita almost rises vertically when looked at at this scale. In other words, we start becoming rich. Humanity starts escaping from poverty. And what is the reason why the output per capita starts to soar?

That is the ability to mobilize vast energy to be used in industrial processes and for transportation, and then for an increasing number of purposes throughout the economy over the course of the succeeding two centuries.

Well, it’s not just the output per person that rose, but you have the same kind of inflection, where the world population which was very, very gradually increasing, suddenly soaring after the middle of the 18th Century, but especially in the 19th Century.

Why did population soar?

One overwhelming reason and that is that humanity in the aggregate could produce vastly more food. And the main reason for that is that there were not only advances in agricultural know-how, but there could be mechanization and there could be long-distance trade in agricultural inputs, as well as the shipment of food itself.

Suddenly, you could grow food in one place and feed populations in another because of ocean steamers or because of locomotion. So the rise of output per capita and the rise of global population are part and parcel of the Industrial Revolution.

Historians talk about long technology waves during this 200-year period. A great economic historian named Kondratieff gave the name to these waves of technological change every forty or fifty years.

They became known as Kondratiev waves. They’re depicted here as several different waves of technological change. Sometimes they’re dated as the first Industrial Revolution, the next Industrial Revolution and so forth.

In wave after wave of technological change that we now call endogenous economic growth, which expands the market which leads to inventors creating yet new technologies and you have a self-feeding, positive feedback process which has now lasted for 200 years.

Up until the Industrial Revolution, we had had a long period where technological change, though evident, came at the space of centuries, whereas now, breakthrough technology started coming year by year, feeding on each other and producing this remarkable breakthrough in economic growth. What made these inventions possible?

Britain certainly was not the only home of scientists. Italy has to have pride of place I would say with Leonardo and with Galileo as really prime movers of the scientific revolution. One would cite Poland and Copernicus as providing one of the greatest insights, the heliocentric universe in the early years of the 16th Century.

But Britain offered a combination of conditions that, one could say, combined with the wonderful accident of Watt’s genius, made possible this confluence that enabled the steam engine and Watt’s insights and the cascade of technologies really to make the first industrial society in England, Britain more generally, in the first years of the 19th Century.

So why? Well intellectual milieu is certainly part of it. It was in Britain that Francis Bacon, way back in the beginning of the 17th Century had the incredible piercing insight to say, we can harness natural forces for human betterment. The idea that natural law could be identified, turned into technology through experimentation, and then used for human improvement was itself an idea of progress that needed an invention.

And I think it’s notable that Francis Bacon is perhaps the clearest and first progenitor of that idea of science-based, evidence-based experimentalist based human progress. Isaac Newton by himself is a, not only an identifier of natural law, but a force of nature, because the breakthroughs that Isaac Newton perceived through a kind of genius that is once in many, many centuries, has to be regarded as part of the story.

What Newton showed, following Galileo, was that mathematics was the language of natural law and not only that, but he developed the language of the calculus and the Newtonian laws of physics to open up an explanation not only of the cosmos, but of dynamics on earth as well. Of course, it was the fact of universities and the relative openness of society that made it possible for there to be a University of Glasgow, to be developing scientific instruments in the Newtonian and Baconian tradition and to hire a great craftsman like James Watt, who had the instruments that he needed, the freedom of action, the intellectual environment to work on his great idea of putting that condenser and rotary motion into Newcomen’s steam engine and give him an environment in which that could be done.

But that wasn’t all. Watt wanted to develop his technology not as a concept but as a business. He lived in an environment where market institutions were developed and where a great invention of the market economy, the ownership of intellectual property in the form of a patent right existed so that he knew and his future business partner, Boulton knew, if we invest in your steam engine, we will get rich.

In other words, we will own the intellectual property so that another engineer can’t come along, take it apart, put it back together and say, I’m going to make the same thing. So does that explain the full story?

Not quite, because there had to be coal. It’s not that they could have taken anything from the countryside, coal was the brilliant breakthrough because coal is very concentrated energy. It is essentially carbon with some impurities. And carbon burns. It emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which will be part of our story a little bit later.

But when it oxidizes, it releases a vast amount of energy which is why the steam engine does what it does. And so the idea of burning coal for energy is a wonderful idea and Britain was burning coal for a long time, but it had to have coal to be in a position to exploit this vast reservoir of high quality free energy that was waiting to be developed once the insight into how it could be effectively utilized was at hand.

Not every country had coal. Not every country had coal near the surface that was mineable at an affordable price, but was close to population centers so that you could actually transport the coal through canals or over flat land, not in some high mountains with phenomenally high transport costs.

So Britain geographically was well placed. Britain had another advantage. All that history of the imperial competition from 1500 up to Newcomen and Watt had led Britain to become the great naval power of Europe, indeed of the world. With that great navy it was possible to have global supply chains.

It was possible to bring cotton from the Americas, cotton from Asia and to bring it reliably into the new steam powered factories of England. All of those factors played their role. The scientific revolution, the market economy, the intellectual property, the existence of excellent universities in which the experimental work could be done, the availability of low-cost coal, indeed the use of coal over many centuries and the Royal Navy which made it possible to envision a global supply chain, reliable enough to invest heavily in British based factories and to bring the primary commodities from around the world.

Took a lot of things to make this happen. It’s probably not surprising that the Industrial Revolution happened just once and it didn’t arise suddenly out of nothing, it was the process of long history and many different components of this integral whole finally coming together to produce a breakthrough, a breakthrough in world economy, a breakthrough out of poverty, a breakthrough into modern economic growth, the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Vagas da Globalização X

2.5 The Beginning of Divergence of the West and Asia

  • In Professor Sachs’ analysis, which are the main dynamics that seek to explain why history turned decisively in favor of Europe?
  • What does Professor Sachs say about the role of the development of capitalist institutions in regards to divergence?

We’ve been discussing the fourth wave of globalization, the age of ocean-based navigation and the emergence of global scale capitalism with all its remarkable energy and its brutality.

It is the age when Europe takes the lead in the world. Why did this happen, fundamentally? This remains one of the most important topics of human history and one of the most debated and contentious topics.

For us to step back and try to understand how this evolved during this fourth wave of globalization, it’s good to put some numbers to the page, or at least to put some graphs to the page.

And what you’re looking at here is an estimate by the late and great macro-historian, Angus Maddison, of the share of the world’s population in five different places that I’ve identified, in Europe, in what will become the United States, China, India and Africa.

What one can see is that in the period starting with Columbus and da Gama, 1500, and coming up to 1820, just essentially at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, China and India dominate. They are the two huge populous countries, each with about a quarter of the world’s population.

And China’s population actually rising between 1700 and 1820 from around a quarter of the world’s population estimated by Maddison in 1700, to around a third of the world’s population, even a little bit higher than that as of 1820.

During this whole period Europe is about one-seventh of the population, something around 14% of the world’s population. The population living in what is today’s geographic boundaries of the United States, 1% of the world’s population. And Africa consistently around 10% of the world population and then declining after 1700, perhaps through the pressures of the slave trade and the pressures of increasing European colonization of coastal Africa.

If we look at estimates of the economy, which track to an important extent, these patterns of population, we see that Maddison estimates that as a share of world output, the situation for India and for China is roughly the same as their share of the world population.

For each, perhaps, 25% of total world output in the 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century, within those two behemoths. In other words, this was still an Asia-centered world economy, up to 1800. China and India were not only populous but they were relatively productive in per capita terms, perhaps not so different from the per capita income levels of Europe at the time.

AIt’s not till the 19th Century that Europe’s huge predominance of technological advantage, military advantage, industrial power really definitively shows itself. So what are the main issues that are posed by this period of history? When did the divergence between western ascendancy and at least relative, if not, absolute Asian decline take hold? Why is that Europe colonized Asia rather than Asia colonizing Europe?

Among the European powers, why is it that England, which has not played any decisive role in our story till now, turned out to be the decisive power of the 19th Century? How decisive was war for Europe’s advantage?

Was war the real key to understanding Europe’s ascendancy or was war a reflection of a deeper set of forces, such as technological dynamism?

We should go back to that hinge moment of history when China, the great technological power, decides unilaterally to put an end to its ocean-going exploration and demonstration of state power, the end of the great voyages of Admiral Zheng He in 1433.

That was a hinge of history. It was a decision not forced on China, so I wouldn’t say it was intrinsic to China’s physical geography. It wasn’t intrinsic to its resource base, it was not compelled by fiscal crisis, as far as we know, certainly not as a long-term decision. One could say that it was a decision of state craft. One could even call it one of the worst public policy decisions in human history, because it was almost voluntarily forfeiting China’s lead.

And by the next moment when China and the west directly confront each other, that would in the 19th Century, maybe you could date it to 1839, to the first opium war between Britain and China, in which Britain as the now dominant force is able decisively to defeat China.

So statecraft played a role. But looking more deeply beneath the question of China’s choice at that moment is an observation that many, many historians have made, famously E.L. Jones among them, which is that China by dint of creating a continental scale statecraft with relative peace in China prevailing over centuries, what we would regard as a fundamental triumph of statecraft compared to Europe which was at war and squabbling among the dukes and the princes and the kings and bloodshed for centuries, in the end created an environment in which Europe became the specialists of warfare.

And so Jones and many, many other historians emphasized the fact that China made the decision to close because it was a unitary state. Whereas such a decision was literally impossible in Europe, because no single political entity dominated Europe.

The countries competed with each other for know-how, for technology, for military advantage, for colonies, for economic advantage, as well. There are other dynamics that we should take into account. We know that many of the concepts, much of the mathematics, many of the astronomical capacities and observations came from the east to the west. But we also know that from the Renaissance forward, the notion of a scientific enterprise based on close observation, systematic knowledge and increasingly, where possible, experimentation led to a scientific revolution in the west.

And one can fairly say that da Vinci, Galileo and Isaac Newton epitomize that revolution. And that revolution played its role both directly and indirectly in the technological revolutions that would follow.

One could also argue, and many historians do, that the competition of different powers in Europe allowed for a more openness of ideas in general. If one state was repressive, another might invite the free thinkers, the scientists, the explorers into their domain as part of their competition with their neighbors. It’s argued by many economists that it was the development of capitalist institutions, the joint stock company, limited liability, insurance that funded and provided risk protection of ocean navigation that provided crucial advantage and ultimately was the source of divergence.

As I noted in an earlier chapter, the Song Dynasty was also a period of great institutional fluorescence in the economic and financial sphere. So one shouldn’t necessarily read too much uniqueness into the advances of capitalist institutions per se, though they definitely played a role in advancing economic power, which also provided a base for increased investments and in the divergence of military power, as well.

Geography no doubt played some role, as well. We’re jumping ahead of the story a little bit, but with the Industrial Revolution the presence of low cost, easily available coal was definitely a part of the success of certain parts of Europe in 19th Century industrialization. And the advantages of having those resources or being able to bring the resources from the Americas, which was just a short skip across the Atlantic Ocean, was definitely an advantage for Europe.

We should also remember the many great historians that have argued that the play of ideas fundamentally were part of the emergence of the dynamism of Europe. And one of the great theses in this regard is by the early 20th Century brilliant sociologist Max Weber, who said that it was actually the religious spirit of Protestant Christianity, specifically Calvinism that was one of the great spurs to money-making, profit-making and rationality of enterprise that enabled this astounding creation of global-scale industry.

And so the ideas of that kind of prudential, rational investment for wealth creation, claims Max Weber, with many critics as well saying, not quite so, but Weber’s thesis that it is the overall intellectual milieu that says that money-making is not only sound, but actually a proof of God’s favor no less that was one of the spurs to the remarkable energy that went to building the modern world economy.

So the divergence took place. Statecraft, resources, happenstance, the irony of interstate warfare leading to learning by doing in military prowess. As late as 1800, one wouldn’t have noted a remarkable, and much less noted, a decisive gap of income and power between Europe and Asia.

But in the 19th Century, that gap was massively on display and massively increased. Europe conquered large parts of Asia, proved its military prowess, proved its economic and technological advantage. And that’s the story that we’re going to turn to next.

Vagas da Globalização IX

2.4 Imperial Competition

  • There had been wars before the fourth wave of globalization, but what was the major difference between those wars and the ones described in this chapter?
  • Which European countries, does Professor Sachs say, played major roles in the competition for empires and colonial territory?

Globalization created global capitalism. Globalization created conditions of impunity. Globalization created conditions of biological exchange, including the spread of pathogens with devastating effects.

And globalization created conditions of war, as well. One of the features of the new age of ocean-based globalization that began in the early years of the 1500s was the competition of European empires. China, remember, had pulled itself out of…out of the action, back in the 1430s when it had scraped its great naval fleets.

Europe, through its navigational advances and its military advances came to find the sea routes to the Americas and the sea routes to Asia and quickly began to try to conquer and dominate those regions, at least to establish trading centers and colonies, to establish plantations, to exploit natural resources, whether the mineral resources of the gold and silver mines of the Americas or the biological resources of the new crop varieties and the plantations that would be made possible with slave labor from Africa.

This was lucrative business. This was also a matter of power. This was an ability to grow foodstuffs, to collect timber, to raise living standards, it was thought, and to create a basis for added national glory. AIt was immediate, when the European powers began to compete with each other, right from the very start with Columbus’ discoveries, Portugal and Spain in rivalry asked the Pope to intervene to demarcate the lines of what should be Spanish colonies and what should be Portuguese colonies. And in the famous or infamous Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, a line was drawn in the Indian Ocean and in principle, around the world, which ended up in essence giving the papal blessing to Portugal’s control over Brazil because Brazil fell to the east of this line of demarcation and giving Spain the colonial rights to the west which meant the Spanish empires of North and South America and of the Caribbean Basin.

The other powers of Europe, France and Britain as a start, were certainly not going to stand still and take the Pope’s word for it. The Dutch who were becoming a rising power in the 16th and then especially the 17th century looked for their own empires. Of course, these countries were already at war with each other over the demarcation of kingdoms and empires within Europe, but now as they sought colonies and possessions abroad, these became the new causes of war within Europe, as well. And the advent of global scale war took place, really beginning Iin the 18th Century where you had global scale conflict taking place in the Americas, in Asia, and in Europe, truly world war for the first time, with the fight for colonial possessions being a very important part of that.

This map just helps us to get some orientation. Henry the Navigator had put Portugal, a tiny country, on a path of imperial possessions by dint of its Atlantic facing coastline and its navigational prowess and its ability to take on the military advances of the gunpowder age, including the cannon power on the Portuguese vessels. And Portugal established, thereby, colonies in Brazil, the Atlantic islands of the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde, across and down the west African coast in Portuguese Guinea, in Sao Tomé, Angola, Mozambique and the beginnings of imperial possessions in the East Indies, as well, in the Moluccas and other islands of the Indonesian Archipelago and in south Asia.

Spain quickly followed and became the leading empire of the 16th century with its claims to a growing part of South America, especially the Caribbean Basin, Mexico and the Andean region, as well as colonial possessions in the Philippines and in the archipelagos of southeast Asia. And with the lines drawn by the Pope, being able to claim imperial possessions on both sides of the world from Spain. Soon enough, the Dutch, the British, the French, got into the competition and as of 1700, the map of colonial powers became more and more crowded, more and more complex. Of course, by this time Britain had its colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America, the colonies that eventually would declare their independence and become the United States of America.

France had its empire in both parts of what is today the U.S. Midwest and up into what is today Canada and Quebec Province and along the St. Lawrence seaway. Both Britain and France began ever so slightly their colonial presence in Africa and in Asia, trying to get footholds into India.

But still, this was the age of the Mughal Empire of India and at this early stage of Europe’s economic development, these countries certainly did not have the military power and advantage with their small numbers and their limited technologies to be able to do more than to colonize small parts of the coasts in Asia and more in the Americas where they faced a drastically outnumbered and weakened Amerindian population.

The 18th Century was marked by these global wars. Wars that both took hold within the colonies and simultaneously, were fought on the European continent itself. One might say that the first of these world wars was the Seven Years War between 1756 and 1763, a competition between Britain and France, that in North America is called the French and Indian Wars, but really was a kind of world war because it was the battle both in the Americas and Europe simultaneously of these two rising powers.

In the event, Britain was able to win control of much of France’s territory in Canada and thereby gain an advantage in North America. Ironically, advantages like this turn out to be very deceptive often as this one did, because as Britain pushed away the French the colonists of the 13 original colonial states asked themselves why should we continue to obey British dictates when we now have a clear way in to settle the Midwest of the United States?

So ironically, Britain’s victory turned out also in a way to be its downfall soon afterwards in North America, because the colonists took the opportunity a few years after the end of the war, precisely in a dozen years later, to begin their effort at winning independence, which they indeed would do.

Well that independence war which was from the early skirmishes in 1775, the Declaration of Independence by the thirteen American colonies in 1776, and the end of the war in 1783 in a way flipped the accounts because in that war, which was a continuation of the great competition between the French Empire and the British Empire, the French sided with the breakaway colonists and it was the French military power and financing that enabled these weak colonies actually to defeat a much more powerful home empire.

And so it was with France’s help that Britain was defeated in the American War of Independence. Well, you might say thereby France gained a great advantage. Well again, you would be mistaken. Looks are deceiving because the French Empire actually spent a lot of resources to help defeat the British. The French government took on a lot of debt. And by the 1780s, found itself in a fiscal crisis, in no small part because of its financing of the American Revolution. Well lo and behold, starting around 1787, the French finance minister tried to raise taxes. This is never a popular moment. Significant backlash occurred in 1789. We now call that the French Revolution. It was started as an anti-tax revolt. It ended up overthrowing the French monarchy and laid France low.

Well you might say, that was to the British advantage. But you would be wrong. This war continued, because who rose to power in the midst of this upheaval of the French Revolution, but a military officer who came to be known as one of the most bloody and greatest generals of history, Napoleon. What followed the French Revolution, of course, were the Napoleonic wars. Europe was thrust into war again. These became global.

The U.S. calls it the War of 1812, between the U.S. and Britain, but from Britain’s point of view this was the, what turned out to be the final years of the Napoleonic Wars, which ended finally with Napoleon’s defeat in Waterloo, in the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The point that I’m making is that globalization also is accompanied by profound changes and competition in geopolitics. In this event in the period of history that I’m discussing, what I’ve called the fourth wave of globalization from the great ocean discoveries until essentially the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the competition of European empires was brutal.

War, one wouldn’t say was nonstop, but it was absolutely continual. It gained in ferocity in the number of deaths because of continuing advances of military technology. And it became global. The fighting embraced the world. Just as globalization had knit the world together in a world of economics, a world of population movements, a world of pathogen movements, and now a world of true global-scale geopolitics.

As of 1800, the world empires looked something like this. Spain still held onto its empires in the southwest of the United States, Central America, and the western part of South America. Portugal held its empire in Brazil. The European powers had coastal possessions around the coasts of Africa, both on the west and the east coasts. And coastal possessions in south Asia and southeast Asia. Russia was expanding as a great land-based empire. That familiar east-west pattern because Russia was spreading across a shared ecological zone of the cold north and the continental climate of mid-latitude Russia from Europe, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

This world would continue to be roiled by geopolitical change and in fact, we’re now just at the verge of a new wave of globalization, and that is the age of industrial globalization. And that is an age that would be dominated by Britain and by the United States. The beginning of the Anglo-American world.

Vagas da Globalização XVIII

2.3 Conquest, Slavery and Genocide in the Americas

  • What does Professor Sachs mean by the “hidden” Columbian Exchange?
  • This chapter describes the so-called triangular trade; what is it and why is it relevant in this context?

Adam Smith emphasized that globalization brought impunity. That when the Europeans discovered how to navigate to the Americas and to Asia, that what should have been mutual benefits of trade turned out to be plunder and misery for the native inhabitants, both of what he called the East and the West Indies. I want to elaborate in this chapter on that misery. It’s important, because we need to remember if we’re looking for a humane, a decent, a sustainable globalization that impunity has often accompanies vast imbalances of wealth and of military power.

And we have to be on guard, even in our own times. There’s another lesson, one that Smith could not really have fully understood and as far as I know, did not mention, and that is that along with the Columbian Exchange of sugar and tobacco and cacao and potatoes and maize was another kind of hidden Columbian Exchange and that was especially of the pathogens.

When the Europeans came to the New World, and they brought their she eps and their goats and their horses, and the diseases that they themselves carried, they were bringing disease to a virgin population that had no experience with those diseases.

A population that was therefore, extraordinarily vulnerable to epidemics without the immunity that was acquired through repeated childhood exposure, or that may have co-evolved by living together with these pathogens over the course of centuries and millennia.

The result was that there was vast disease and death within the native populations. Some of the diseases that caused the mass deaths included small pox, measles, the introduction, we believe, of malaria, from the sub-tropics of Europe, and we know that in hinge moments of history, for instance, when Hernán Cortés marched his conquistadors into the Aztec Kingdom and was vastly outnumbered, one of the reasons that a small number of conquistadores lead by Cortés was able to overthrow the Aztec Empire, was that they brought a small pox epidemic with them that raged throughout the Aztec community and enabled Cortés to not only survive what otherwise, probably would have not be possible, but actually to conquer the Aztecs.

And that repeated phenomenon of Europeans inadvertently, in most cases, or almost all cases, spreading disease and leading to the mass loss of the native populations is a repeated phenomenon in the history of the Americas.

Smith could not really have known this, and so he looked at the episodes through the lens of force, subjugation, slavery, direct murder and genocide of populations, and without question, that was part of the visitation of the Europeans, but the germ theory of disease itself would only be understood 100 years after Smith wrote those famous lines, only with the discoveries of Koch and Pasteur in Europe in the 1870s onward.

And so, the role of pathogens in making the way for European conquest could not be fully appreciated until modern times. If one combines the brutality which was undoubted, the enslavement of native populations, the direct slavery that was brought by Europeans from Africa to now work the plantations of the New World, the result was nothing less than a human catastrophe for the Amerindian populations of the Caribbean Basin first, and then of North and South America and of the massive numbers of Africans who were enslaved and transported brutally and forcibly to the Americas, many of whom died in passage and those who survived the passage faced lives of brutality and opened up generations of enslavement to come.

The results of all of this are absolutely shocking. I’m showing you here an estimate of the Native American population in Mexico for example following the conquests of Cortés. And what you see here is of course only an estimate. But the estimate is that in the year before Cortés’ conquest, there may have been on the order of 25 million Native Americans in Mexico, but by the end of the century, the number was less than one-tenth of that.

So almost a complete elimination of the Amerindian population in this case. And this kind of massive destruction of the population is something that would be experienced in many parts of the Americas. It’s mainly in the highland and the landlocked regions, in Paraguay, in Bolivia, in the highlands of Peru, in the highlands of Central America, where you did not have the plantation labor, where the Europeans were far fewer in number, where indigenous populations could thereby survive.

But it was more in the coastal areas, in the more favored areas from an agricultural point of view, in the areas where Amerindian populations would come into contact more frequently with European populations as carriers of disease and as carriers of brutality where the shocking declines and almost complete loss of populations occurred.

One famous orientation of this new global industry is summarized as the so-called triangular trade that took place. Europe in the 16th Century onward became a manufacturing center, a processing center for agricultural goods.

A increasing creator of textiles, apparel, metal goods that were desired by chieftains and those in Africa who would trade slaves for those manufactured goods from Europe. So the first leg of the triangle is the export of manufactured products, increasingly from western Europe to West Africa, to today’s Senegal, or today’s Ghana, or the coastal countries which became the major sources of slave labor.

Those slaves were then carried to the Americas where they worked the tropical plantations, whether it was the growing cotton plantations or especially the sugar cane plantations of the Caribbean which became the richest part of Europe’s colonies in the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries and where the slave labor was murderous, because the conditions were horrendous and the diseases that the slave populations incurred were devastating to them.

Those slaves in turn produced commodities that then could be exported to Europe and that completed the third side of this so-called triangular trade. African slaves provided labor that fueled this early stage of European capitalism that came to dominate the period from 1500 to 1800.

This graphic illustrates the massive movement of slaves from Africa, almost  all in the direction of the Americas. A few from East Africa to enslavement in the Middle East. The overwhelming numbers came from the Gulf of Guinea and from…from the Atlantic coast of Africa, heavily to Brazil, massively to the Caribbean and some to the Americas, where slave labor would take hold and become the basis of the cotton empire in the U.S. colonies of the south and then of the southern United States after the War of Independence.

In total, it’s estimated that 14 million Africans were carried as slaves during this period. This is truly a grim and horrific stage of global capitalism. And the cruelty that accompanied the development of the modern world economy must not be forgotten, because that cruelty shows up in other ways until today in human trafficking which continues, in bonded labor, in child labor, which still become part of global supply chains. We’re not done with this horrific abuse of humanity by others in pursuit of greed and profit.

Vagas da Globalização VII

2.2 Global Trade in Commodities

What is the Columbian Exchange?

What does history tell us about the relationship between private enterprises and governments, according to Professor Sachs?

In this chapter, I want to talk about the rise of global industry and global production chains. And you might think I’m talking about Apple products or Microsoft or something of our current age, but I want to talk about the globalization of the 16th Century, of the 1500s, because almost as soon as Columbus had made his voyages and Vasco da Gama had circled the Cape of Good Hope, entrepreneurs went to work to construct, remarkably, often with a lot of violence and cruelty attached, often mobilized by a greed that is almost hard to imagine, because the dangers and the obstacles were very high, truly global scale industry, global scale production chains.

Of course, we had had international trade for millennia. But the idea of buying raw materials in one part of the world, partially transforming them, shipping them to another, processing them in another, exporting them to another part of the world and not just within Eurasia or Eurasia and Africa, but now the entire world, this is real globalization as we know it.

And this is in many ways a 16th Century invention. Astounding when one looks at it. And it’s the reason why absolutely wonderful books have been written taking world history from the perspective of cotton, or world history from the perspective of tobacco, or world history from the perspective of coffee, or world history from the perspective of cacao and cocoa and chocolate.

Not only are these among our most favorite and addictive products, but these are really the first global scale industries. And the ingenuity and the rapaciousness, the greed, and yes, the violence that are all packaged together in the birth of the modern world economy are absolutely stunning.

Now it has been a theme of mine that technologies and know-how, including agricultural knowhow diffuse within ecological zones. And especially for the diffusion of agricultural know-how, one has to recognize that crops and animal herds have their ecological niches and therefore diffusion typically has been within latitudes on relatively contiguous areas.

Now we’re going to leap whole oceans, still within ecological zones, but technologies, for example, sugar cane, which originated in south and southeast Asia and then was carried by the Islamic empires into the areas of the Middle East, the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys, into the Nile Valley and the Nile farming region, and then across the islands of the Mediterranean and into Madeira and the islands of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

With global scale trade made possible now by ocean-going navigation, crops like sugar suddenly leap whole ocean regions to become true global scale industries.

Now crops like sugar cane could suddenly leap the oceans. And a remarkable process began very quickly that is known to us today as the Columbian Exchange. A great term championed by the wonderful historian Alfred Crosby, who talked about the biological exchange between the Old World and the New World that was quickly occasioned by Columbus’s voyages and by the ocean navigation links now established between Europe and the Americas.

And what ensued was a massive biological exchange of crops and also of pathogens. Crops flowed in both directions. One of the most important crops that flowed from Europeans to planting in the Americas was sugar.

Europe quickly developed an addiction for sugar, as its price fell, as it became more plentiful, as it was possible to grow sugar cane now massively in the Caribbean region and then later both in South and North America in coastal, subtropical regions, sugar production and demand exploded and sugar became one of the truly global industries. Another massive exchange took place when a wonderful bean, absolutely one of my favorites, went from its original home in the highlands of Ethiopia and was carried for planting to the Americas and that was the expansion of coffee growing.

That’s another addiction that quickly swept Europe and sweeps the world till today with a massive expansion of coffee growing. Well the Americas had their own gifts to the world, many of them. Staple crops and other products that established global industries, of staple crops, too, have been a profound global significance, like Adam Smith said, having one region of the world able to help meet the needs and the wants of other regions, one of those crops is maize or what in the United States we call corn.

And that was the staple crop of the Aztec Empire, grown by Amerindian populations in the southwest of the United States and carried back to Europe and from Europe into Africa where Africa became a major maize growing region of the world.

Another crop of world changing significance is the potato, which was developed in Neolithic Revolution of the high Andean region and in the Columbian Exchange carried back to Europe where it became a staple crop across Europe, of course famously in Ireland, but also those wonderful addictive crops crossed the Atlantic from the west to the east, cacao, establishing itself and spread by the Europeans into cocoa growing, cacao growing and cocoa production in many parts of what would become the colonies in Africa.

And of course I would say now, notoriously but one of the most addictive and favoured crops in modern human history, tobacco, which was learned from the Amerindian populations and taken and cultivated around the world.

Industries from sugar cane, chocolate growing, coffee, tobacco became the great global industries of the modern world. They became the great industries of the first early phase of modern capitalism. They established a kind of structure and pattern of global scale finance, insurance, overseas production, global value chains, primary production in certain regions and processing in other regions.

And thus became the real era of global-scale, early capitalism occasioned by these absolutely powerful new industries driven by the intense desires of literally, addictive crops, which remain addictive to us today. And this map is a depiction of the rapidly multiplying sea routes from Europe to the Americas, both north and south, from Europe to Asia, both north and south and from the eastern Pacific in the coasts of North and South America to the western Pacific, right across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines and what would become colonies of the western imperial powers.

It’s a remarkable story how fast these new global value chains developed. Many of the institutions of modern capitalism were born here. One of the persistent realities of modern capitalism, and that is that private enterprise was always developed in a kind of partnership and symbiotic relationship with powerful patrons of the state.

If nothing more than to be protectors of the sea routes through naval power, but also to provide the military backing for the establishment of plantations, of mining sites, of colonies overseas.

And to my mind, the close relationship of these nascent, global capitalists, not only in the agricultural crops, but of course in the mining sites of the Americas, the gold and the silver mines which fed the bullion to Spain and to the rest of Europe and which was then used to purchase the fine silks and the porcelains from Asia. That close relationship of these giant businessmen of their time to the great financiers who developed to fund these voyages and to insure the fleets as they went on their way, to the government power of the monarchs who both created royal charters for plantations and created new joint stock companies that would be the ones to carry out the exploitation of these new sectors shows hand in hand, state power and private power as a core feature of capitalism from its earliest days.

Often the story is told that capitalism is about the private economy and the government is just there if anything to protect private property rights and adjudicate commercial disputes or at least that’s what it quote, “should” do.

But we can see from the history from the 16th Century onward, that capitalism is investing massive capital, often backed by the state, almost always in some kind of symbiotic relationship with state power to develop global scale activity. Impressive, without question. Exploitative, without doubt. Brutal, yes. And that is the topic of the next chapter.

Vagas da Globalização VI

2: Ocean-Based Globalization: 1500-1800

In the second week of the course, Professor Sachs expands on the Ocean-Based Globalization Period, or fourth-wave of globalization, as he calls it. He describes this period as being a time of “true” globalization, because, for the first time since the dispersal of humanity out of Africa, all continents of the world found themselves connected to each other. Christopher Columbus’ and Vasco da Gama’s voyages gave way to global scale industry, production chains and trade. Professor Sachs points out that these exchanges, which also included the exchanges of pathogens, were often marked with cruelty and violence. During this period, not only global scale, early capitalism, but also world-scale wars, based on the competition between European empires, shaped the modern world. To conclude, Professor Sachs introduces the concept of the period of the great divergence and presents existing arguments that try to explain the reasons behind it.

2.1 Sea-Based Globalization

What was different between the ocean-based globalization and the land-based globalization described in the previous module?

  • Why does he call the ocean-based globalization the “true” globalization?
  • According to Professor Sachs’ interpretation of Adam Smith, what does Adam Smith think will enable the eventual rebalancing of power?

In this module, I want to talk about an absolutely pivotal era for human history and that is the period between Christopher Columbus and essentially James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine.

It’s the period in which modern globalization first takes hold and in which many of the characteristics of our world today are developed. I’ve talked about waves of globalization and I have, somewhat arbitrarily perhaps, described six waves.

And now we’re at the fourth of these six globalizations and that is the era of ocean- based globalization.

This is a very distinctive period. In fact one could say that unlike the preceding era of the great land-based empires this one is true globalization for the first time since the dispersal of humanity out of Africa, because this globalization that begins in 1492 is a globalization that brings together Europe and Asia, which have long been connected by land, together with Africa, but now together with the Americas and with Oceania, with Australia and New Zealand and eventually the Pacific islands as well.

This is a true globalization for all parts of the world. It is a momentous change of human history in all regards. It begins with the great advances of ocean based navigation, which were taking place both in China and in fact China was the leader in world technology and the leader in ocean based navigation, and increasingly, on the other western, far side of Eurasia, indeed in the Iberian peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean countries, first Portugal and Spain and then later, Britain and other of the ocean bordered countries of western Europe become navigational leaders in their own right.

In the early 15th Century, China’s navigational capacity was second to none in the world. The famed seven voyages of the Admiral Zheng He in the first three decades of the 15th Century are justly remembered hundreds of years later as remarkable accomplishments of China of the time, as this map shows for the fourth of the voyages, from China throughout southeast Asia, the South China Sea, through the Malacca Pass, around Java and Sumatra, into the Indian Ocean, all the way to east Africa, to Arabia, the coast of India and then back to China.

This great navigational leader with this unbelievable capacity shown by the vast grand fleet that he sailed throughout the Indian Ocean region was a triumph of technology, a triumph of China’s grandeur and also of course an act of Chinese statecraft, because one of the goals of Admiral Zheng He was to make sure that the rest of the countries of the Indian Ocean understood who was who in the geopolitical ordering of the time, with China viewing itself, understandably, as the kingdom to which all of the others needed to pay tribute and obeisance.

On the other side of Eurasia, to a vastly smaller extent, a very pioneering Henry the Navigator of Portugal was encouraging naval exploration and navigational technological advances with an exploration down the coast of west Africa.

Eventually, that would culminate with the Portuguese navigators reaching the southern tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, and with the help of Arab knowhow in the Indian Ocean, sailing from the southern tip of Africa to the coast of India, that is Vasco da Gama’s famed voyage of 1498.

One of the reasons why the Europeans and Henry the Navigator in this case was increasingly interested in ocean-based navigation is that with the fall of the eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, the Mediterranean as a sea route to the Indian Ocean and to trade with Asia was now blocked, controlled by Turkish forces, by the Islamic world.

And so Europe gained interest and the kings of Europe gained special interest in trying to find an ocean-based pathway to Asia that could circumvent an eastern Mediterranean, now controlled by the Turks.

And indeed, this is precisely what was accomplished by the end of the 15th Century with da Gama’s voyage. Now history took a shocking turn one could say, because while China was dominant, preeminent in technology, preeminent in statecraft, preeminent in geopolitics, preeminent in population, that preeminence exactly began to end just in this period.

One fundamental reason, one of the hinge moments of history, was the decision by the imperial court of China, the Ming Dynasty, to end the naval voyages of Admiral Zheng He and any similar voyages afterwards, indeed, for hundreds of years. That great fleet was scrapped. Attention turned from the Indian Ocean to the north of China. The prevailing theories are that this was partly ideological, China feeling, we’re at the center, we are the center of the world, not only at it, but we don’t really need the rest of the world, why should we be engaging in this expensive ocean-based activity?

And probably at a far more pragmatic and perhaps far more important reason, nomadic invaders from the north were threatening China security. And China always faced the challenge of the peoples from the steppes, though they did not have the population numbers, they did not have the Chinese great civilization and technology, they had the military means of cavalry and of a horse-based militaristic society to threaten and to conquer China.

Hence, the Great Wall of China to try to stop the nomadic invaders, and hence perhaps the fundamental reason why this ocean-going, outward-looking China suddenly scrapped its navigational advantages, stopped exploring the Indian Ocean, decided to scrap the fleet, in essence, close the borders, limit trade and to a significant, though not complete extent, to turn inward.

In the end, it was not China circling the Cape of Good Hope on the way to Europe, but the Europeans circling the Cape of Good Hope on the way to India and China that turned out to change history.

And change history they did. The last decade of the 15th Century, thereby became one of the pivot points of all of modern history, where within eight years, Christopher Columbus trying to find a sea route by going west to find a route to Asia, and Vasco da Gama by going south and eventually trying to round Africa and then going east to find the same route, within a period of six years, had their respective successes.

Of course, Columbus thought that he had discovered a sea route to the East Indies, but in fact he had discovered two new continents that Europe had not been aware of, North America and South America.

And Vasco da Gama did succeed in what his purpose was and that was to link Europe and Asia with ocean based navigation. When they did so, they did more than create the sea links. They knit together the entire world for the first time in more than 10,000 years.

They brought the New World and the Old World together. They brought Europe and Asia together in a more intensive way than could ever have been possible by overland trade itself since sea-based navigation, unit by unit was far less costly and therefore far more supportive of large-scale trade than overland navigation could ever have been.

And the Europeans brought back to Asia something that they had received from China, originally, and that was gunpowder and artillery and new weaponry that came with the advances and that came to be carried on European ships that sailed into the Indian Ocean.

It was the Song Dynasty where gunpowder was first invented and developed and where the early cannon and the beginning of guns and all of the technologies that would follow were first developed by the Chinese.

But it was in Europe where that technology was advanced. One theory is that because China was a mostly peaceful and continental scale empire, whereas Europe was an endlessly squabbling and endlessly fighting set of kingdoms and principalities, the learning by doing of warfare in Europe was accelerated relative to that of China.

One could say that Europe leapfrogged in this ironic way and became the masters of the gunpowder age. And certainly when those European vessels started to enter the Indian Ocean, they entered with cannon fire, and they entered with a military power that despite the small numbers of Europeans that came, proved to be able to conquer territory, to set up new colonies, to set up bases for what became subsequently an expansion of European imperial rule throughout Asia.

This certainly marked a pivotal change of human history. And we can see that it meant the rise of western power for hundreds of years to come. And I always find it poignant and powerful to look at what Adam Smith wrote about these events 275 years after they took place.

Adam Smith, the great inventor of modern economic thought, living in Scotland, publishing his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations, in 1776 gives a panoramic view of the world economy. He was a piercingly perceptive observer, a genius and a humanist. And this is what he had to say about this period of human history. And I’m going to quote at length, because I think it’s wonderful to listen to a great mind like Adam Smith reflecting on these pivotal events. It inspires us to think hard about our own times and about the possibility of reflecting meaningfully on great events such as this.

Smith writes, “The discovery of America and that of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind.” Wow, think about that statement, “the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind.

Their consequences have been very great. But in the short period of between two and three centuries, which has elapsed since these discoveries were made, it is impossible that the whole extent of their consequences can have been seen.

“What benefits or what misfortunes to mankind may hereafter result from those great events, no human wisdom can foresee.” And here is Smith coming about their meaning. “By uniting in some measure the most distant parts of the world, by enabling them to relieve one another’s wants, to increase one another’s enjoyments and to encourage one another’s industry, their general tendency would seem to be beneficial.”

What Smith is saying is, we now have globalization. We now have global trade. All parts of the world connected. That would seem to be good.

Each part of the world could help others in what they want through mutually beneficial specialization and trade. But Smith being a great humanist goes on. He writes, “To the natives however, both of the East and West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned.”

In other words, the native inhabitants in the Caribbean, the Carib Indians for example, or the native inhabitants of Java and Sumatra or the Calicut or the Malabar coast of India, they suffered from this. They didn’t gain commercially. “These misfortunes however seem to have arisen rather from accident than from anything in the nature of those events themselves.

At the particular time when these discoveries were made the superiority of force happened to be so great on the side of the Europeans that they were enabled to commit with impunity every sort of injustice in those remote countries.”

What is Smith saying? He’s saying, the Europeans arrived, they plundered, they dominated, they enslaved, they murdered the native inhabitants.

And it was this advantage of power that meant that what should have been mutually beneficial trade proved to be not mutually beneficial at all. Then Smith goes on.

“Hereafter perhaps the natives of those countries may grow stronger, or those of Europe may grow weaker and the inhabitants of all of the different quarters of the world may arrive at that equality of courage and force, which by inspiring mutual fear can alone overawe the injustice of independent nations into some sort of respect for the rights of one another.”

What is Smith saying? He’s saying, the Europeans were so dominant they did not respect the human rights of the inhabitants of the East and West Indies. They were able to act with impunity, with brutality, in fact.

But Smith is looking at benefits for all of humanity and he’s saying that some day those distant quarters may gain in power sufficiently that they will be treated with respect, because there will be an equality of courage and force, which by inspiring fear will stop the injustice, stop the plundering.

And then Smith gives the added twist of the great economist that he was, “Nothing seems more likely to establish that equality of force than the mutual communication of knowledge and of all sorts of improvements which an extensive commerce from all countries to all countries naturally or rather necessarily, carries along with it.”

What is Smith saying? What will lead to a rebalancing of power? Well, nothing less than international trade and globalization itself, because globalization will lead to an exchange of knowledge. It will lead to a communication of technological knowhow, what Smith calls “all sorts of the improvements.” Meaning, technological advances. And commerce will make that possible.

Globalization will rebalance, allow a catching up by the laggard regions of the world so that they can catch up, they can gain in force, in power, in mutual respect.

And then from Smith’s point of view, and I hope from our point of view, thereby have the mutual benefits of globalization, not the one-sided globalization that comes from conquest by the powerful of the weak.

This is a wonderful statement filled with meaning for us. But what Smith is saying is, these events of what I’ve called the fourth wave of globalization, the ocean-based navigation are the most significant events of human history because they united all of humanity.

But they didn’t bring benefits for all of humanity. They brought benefits for one part of humanity, western Europe, but they did bring a lot of misery for those who incurred the wrath and the dominant power of the Europeans who came not only to trade, but also to plunder and to conquer.

Vagas da Globalização V

1.5 The Medieval Chinese Miracle

Hought-provoking questions:

  • Between the year 900 AD to approximately the mid 15th Century, was the direction of innovation predominantly flowing from East to West or from West to East?
  • Why were the new technologies that were invented in China during the Song Dynasty period fundamental to the subsequent rise of Europe?

In this chapter, I want to bridge the ancient world of the Roman Empire with the world of globalization that commences with Columbus and Vasco da Gama in the last decade of the 15th Century.

And that means to look at the developments between the fall of the western Roman Empire and the emergence of the European Renaissance and the changes that it would bring.

And once again, when we do this, we find how Eurasia and geography so much shape the history of global scale change.

I want to pick up our story of global scale change with the emergence of Islam as a global religion. What is amazing about this story, but I think very much pertinent to the way that I’m trying to look at some of these underlying factors, is that Islam emerges quickly, suddenly, at a massive global scale.

Indeed, over a period of just a couple of centuries. And very much in an ecologically shaped manner. When Muhammad makes the hijra to Medina in 622 and Islam emerges as a new religion and one that would then be carried by ideas and by conquest in the following decades, the spread of Islam both to the west, across north Africa and into Spain and to the east into today’s Middle East and western Asia is remarkably rapid.

And as with the Roman Empire, and as with the Han Empire that we’ve looked at, as with the Hun, massive steppe-based empire, the empire of the Islamic world and here I’m showing in this map the third of the great caliphates, the Abbasid dynasty based in Baghdad is once again, an east-west empire, not because there’s any natural preference of east-west over north-south, except that east-west tracks ecological zones and ecological zones shape the technological underpinnings of empires, of economies.

And in the case of the Islamic world, this is a dryland civilization that hugs at its outward limit, the Mediterranean climate of dry summers and wet winters and into the steppe-land and desert zones and where we could say the transition from the horse in the Mediterranean climate to the camel in the Arab environment takes place.

The conquests of Islam across north Africa and into Spain were shaped by armies carried by horse and camel across north Africa. And the Arabic-based civilization and Arab-led civilization of the Islamic world in this period is an ecologically shaped environment that began in the Hejaz of today’s Saudi Arabia on the coast of the Red Sea and in the desert regions.

Centuries later, a Turkic-based civilization would emerge, taking over a lot of this same territory and extending into southeastern Europe, what we call the Balkans region today, as well as Anatolia in the eastern Mediterranean.

And that, of course, is named after the founder of this hugely successful Turkic empire, the Osman, which became the Ottoman Empire.

And at its maximum extent you have another east-west empire, again characterized by a combination of Mediterranean climate and dryland climate to the south and to the east of the Mediterranean climate.

Once again, part of this is characteristic of the Roman Empire, which the Ottomans conquered in the east when Constantinople fell in 1453 and became Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Part of it is the conquest of the Arab lands, along the Red Sea and along north Africa. So that the Ottomans became heirs to the Arab-based civilizations.

But once again, an ecologically-based region that was able to diffuse common agricultural technologies, knowhow, animal herdsmanship, the use of the horse and the camel, military technologies that shaped together the Ottoman Empire in the way that they had shaped the Abbasid Empire and the way that they had shaped the Roman Empire in the past.

And all of these civilizations, especially these bridging civilizations of the Middle East, the Islamic world and the Turkish world, carried knowledge from east Asia and south Asia to Europe and hosted travelers like Marco Polo on their way from Europe to east Asia.

And they played not only a role in their own right innovation of technology, but they played a bridging role, as well, that was fundamental, along those lucky latitudes of Eurasia with knowledge diffusing from west to east and from east to west. And perhaps one of the most remarkable periods of human history, technological innovation, and technological diffusion, in a way forgotten now in our common discussion, but one of the pinnacles of civilization was the period of the Chinese Song Dynasty from 970 A.D. till 1279 A.D., until the Song Dynasty fell to the Mongol conquest.

And what makes this period of Chinese history, the Song Dynasty so remarkable is that it was in its way an apogee of global technological innovation and the diffusion of those technologies, which took centuries in many cases, was absolutely fundamental to the rise of Europe that would follow.

And Europe became proficient, the master, the owner of a lot of the technologies that were first pioneered and developed in the Song Dynasty, so much so that Europe claimed credit for them when the credit squarely belonged with China in historical terms.

What are some of these great innovations?

Of course the use of the compass especially for ocean-based navigation is a great Chinese invention that became fundamental for all navigation, but was used by the European navigators as they began their age of exploration centuries after the compass was in use in Song China.

The advent of a market economy, private ownership, the use of paper currency as an efficient means for monetizing a market economy could be considered a Song Dynasty invention.

Certainly it was a case of massive and fruitful deployment of this know-how. It’s arguable that movable type and the printing press emerged first in the Song Dynasty and some of the knowledge and techniques gradually diffused to Europe where Guttenberg was able to integrate them in his vision in northern Germany in 1440 to invent the printing press in the European context, but certainly printing with the movable type was used in China during the Song period.

And the diffusion of that know-how played a role in the reinvention of the technology and the uptake of the technology in Europe centuries later. Many institutions of banking, insurance, joint stock companies, find their examples and innovation during the Song period, which was to an important extent a market-based economy of a flourishing of living standards, population increase, internal peace, institutional innovation and technological innovation that we can only marvel at in the reflection of history.

Great artistic inventions and the development of fine porcelain which became one of the favored products for importation in Europe reaches an apogee of knowhow during the Song period.

Mechanical clocks and other mechanical devices are developed during the Song period and spread along the lucky latitudes through Arabic civilization, through the Ottoman Empire to Venice and to the rest of western Europe.

So this was the period from 900, relatively, to probably the middle of the 15th Century and the end of the 15th Century where the overwhelming direction of technological innovation was coming from east to west, where any observer at the time standing in 1450 on the eve of the fall of the eastern Roman Empire, the fall of Constantinople, to become the new capital of the Ottoman Empire, watching the role of China as the great innovator for Eurasia, would have predicted that China would long dominate the world scene as the world’s most populous country, the technologically advanced country, the country that would continue to be world leader.

But, in fact, this phase of history was drawing to an end, a rather abrupt and surprising end. And within a century or two, in the 1500s and the 1600s, the rise of the west became the dominant development of global change. That’s the next wave of globalization that I want to explore, what I’ve called the fourth wave of globalization that begins with ocean-based globalization at the time of Columbus and Vasco da Gama. In the next module we will turn to that era.


Vagas da Globalização IV

1.4 The Classical World

Thought-provoking questions:

  • Both the Roman Empire and the Chinese Han Empire spread mainly toward their respective East and West, rather than to their North or South. Why is this relevant?
  • What are the advantages of east/west empire expansion?

In this chapter, I want to talk about what I’ve called the third wave of globalization. That’s the classical age of the Roman Empire, its contemporaneous empire in China, the Han Empire and other geopolitics of that time. And I want to use this not to give a deep explanation of that history, but rather to illustrate the role of physical ecology in shaping what we look at as mainly geopolitics or imperial dynamics.

In fact, the empires of Rome and of China and many, many similar cases throughout history, are to a tremendous extent ecologically shaped in ways that perhaps are under-appreciated.

Let’s look at the Roman Empire at its maximum extent, roughly around 117 A.D. during the time of Emperor Trajan. And what you see is first of all, a characteristic of empires that might seem arbitrary at the start, but has a very deep base and that is that the Roman Empire lies mostly east-west.

The extent from the Atlantic coast in the west to the eastern Mediterranean is far greater than the north-south extent of the empire. And if you look at the map of the Roman Empire at its maximum extent and compare it to the climate zones that we have seen with the so-called Köppen-Geiger climate classification shown in the light green in this map, you quickly realize that the Roman Empire is almost defined by its climatology.

This is not surprisingly a Mediterranean climate. Remember that a Mediterranean climate is a subtropical climate that has the characteristic that it is cool, but not freezing in the winter months and quite rainy and warm and very sunny and typically dry.

And where Rome was able to reach and conquer was where the ecology supported the base of Roman life. What are the great crops of the Roman Empire? Well, wheat is the staple and wheat grows very well in exactly this Mediterranean climate. We think of this today as the Mediterranean diet with olive oil and the olive trees and that is the ecological extent of where the olive growing is. Most famous perhaps of all and most pleasurable is the winemaking, because wine is favoured by a Mediterranean climate.

Of course, not only in the Mediterranean basin, but also the Mediterranean climate of California, which is another example of a cool, wet winter and a dry, sunny summer in the Napa Valley of California.

And one can find similar ecological niches in Chile, on the west coast of South America or the west coast of Australia. And so the Roman Empire, one could say, in a way was defined by its wheat, its olives, and its winegrowing. Of course that’s not the only reason why the generals of the Roman Empire stopped their conquests at these boundaries.

To go south of that thin band of temperate zone of north Africa meant getting to the desert. The desert is a completely different ecology. It doesn’t support a high density population. It can’t support crop production, it introduces multiple new hazards. It requires camel-rearing rather than the horsemanship of the Roman Empire.

To go north of the Rhine and into the heavy soils of northern Europe and the much colder temperatures required technologies that were not available in Roman times. Heavier plows and new ways to farm and to clear very heavy forests that really wouldn’t be developed adequately for hundreds of years after the demise of the western Roman Empire.

So this east-west orientation is really a climate zone orientation, which in turn is an agro-ecological and a disease epidemiological orientation.

It is an animal husbandry orientation because this is a range where cows and where goats and sheep and horses familiar to the mixed farming of the Roman Empire could thrive. South and north, it becomes much more complicated. This pattern I want to insist is very common to empires throughout history.

Look at where they are, look at what their boundaries are. Lo and behold, there are reasons for those boundaries, why they didn’t extend north or south or into distinctive ecological zones.

We could take another look, in this case, at Alexander’s conquests which became the Hellenic age after Alexander’s death and then the division of his empire into successor states.

Look at its orientation. Again, this is an east-west orientation. It’s sharing a common ecological zone. It is an ecology where horses can play their military role, their transport role, where mixed animal husbandry in western Asia, in the Levant or the eastern Mediterranean, in Anatolia and western Asia, today’s Turkey, all can be part of a shared technological space of crops, disease burden, animals for traction and for mixed agriculture and for transport conditions, as well.

If we look at China, the Han Empire and look at the maximum extent of the Han Empire, what do we see? We again see an east-west orientation.

This is again, the subtropical and temperate climate, both the relatively warmer climates, but not in the tropics and avoiding the more poleward, cold climates that enabled China to thrive and to create a unified state.

China, of course, is a civilization that has been based on its great the rivers. With both the northern Yellow River and the more southern Yangtze River being the cradle of Chinese civilization. The northern zones, being more millet and wheat production, and the more southern farming areas around the Yangtze being rice cultivation.

But once again, one sees that China both in its ancient imperial history and up until today really bridges the temperate climate zones and its southern boundary, until today, is a tropical boundary, because the big distinction of today’s China and what’s sometimes called Indochina, the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, that southern boundary is the boundary to the tropical climates.

Distinctive agriculture, distinctive disease conditions, distinctive animal husbandry patterns, and though Chinese generals did several times try to invade and conquer, Vietnam, they never succeeded in doing so.

And one wonders whether part of the story was that they were fighting a climate as well as fighting a strong resistance from the Vietnamese throughout their history.

And that it was the ecology as well as the psychology that delimited the Chinese imperial areas. We can see in later conquests, both the Hun Empire, these are people from the steppes regions that created a huge land based empire north of the lucky latitudes, mainly in the steppe zones.

They became, of course, famed for their military valor and their capacity to conquer and to plunder in the waning days of the western Roman Empire.

But they are also an ecologically conditioned people, in this case, people of the steppes region. And the Huns of the 5th Century will be followed by the Mongols of the 12th and 13th Centuries as people of the steppe region with vast capacity to conquer based on a horse-based civilization that itself is inherently a grassland civilization.

The essence of a horse-based civilization is to be able to feed the horses and to have them in an ecological zone that they can survive. And that of course means plenty of pastureland for the horses and the great steppe regions. That is the so-called B climate zone that one can see in the climate map has defined the steppes of Eurasia and has given rise throughout history to periods of great military victory and vast but short-lived land based empires of the Huns, the Mongols, and similar populations from the steppe region.

Well, these are the east-west great empires sharing a temperate zone ecology, able to transmit agricultural technologies and other know-how, sharing other features of disease ecology and even mineral and physical geography that made it possible for Eurasia to become an integrated trading region already more than 2000 years ago.

And the great connector of that trade was the steppes of Asia, the grassland regions that supported horsemanship and horse-base transport.

These became the Silk Roads that linked Europe and Asia in history, that transmitted culture, technology, and armies throughout history. I think it’s right to say that up to and only until the invention of the steam-based locomotive and then the internal combustion engine in the 19th Century, the world’s highways were effectively the paths for horsemanship and horse-based transport.

And one could say that the steppes of Eurasia, the steppe lands, the grasslands of Eurasia were the great highway system that integrated Eurasia during the 2000 years, up to the modern age and up to the advantages that came with the ocean-based navigation, starting in the 16th Century.

Well, these are just snippets to give some feel for how the history of humanity, these great empires and their trade have these shapers of physical geography, of climate, of innovation and diffusion always for us to try to decipher and discern in our understanding of history, because these shapers of events continue in more recent history as I will now discuss in future chapters.


Vagas da Globalização III

1.3 The Eurasian Advantage

Thought-provoking questions:

  • Why is it helpful to look at climate zones to better understand the spread of technologies and ideas?
  • What region of the world has consistently shaped the dynamics of global development since ancient times?

In this chapter, I want to talk about one particular part of the world and that is the mid-latitudes of Eurasia. Take a look at the map.

We can think of the world’s land areas in distinctive parts. There is Europe and Asia, part of the largest land mass, Eurasia. And the boundaries between Europe and Asia are conventionally given by the Ural Mountains.

But that large land mass has been at the core of so much of global change, of technological dynamism, and of world power for so long that there is a very special and crucial role that we need to understand.

Of course, there is Africa, also, our original home, the cradle of humanity, the origin of all homo sapiens. Now with a population that is about one-seventh of humanity, but rising quickly so that Africa could become a quarter of all of humanity or even a third of the total human population by the end of the 21st Century.

Then there are the Americas, North and South America, which from 13,000 years ago roughly until perhaps 1000 A.D. were completely cut off in human history from what was happening in the old world of Europe, Asia and Africa. Some Viking settlements about a thousand years ago came from Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland to settle briefly in northeast Canada, in Newfoundland. But those settlements were very short-lived and forgotten.

And it was really with the discovery of the sea route that Christopher Columbus pioneered in 1492 that the links of the Old World and the Americas became deeply, rapidly, inextricably intertwined.

Oceania with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands, also was inhabited by humanity 50,000 years ago, but the indigenous populations were largely separated from the dynamics of change in Eurasia, again until the Europeans came and began to colonize Australia through imperial rule in the 18th Century.

What I want to focus on in this chapter is the distinctive history of this great land mass, Eurasia. And that land mass has been home typically to at least three-quarters, if not more, of all of the human population.

China and India dating back for millennia have been the most populous parts of the world, the great monsoon rains and the high productivity of rice-fed agriculture supported relatively large population densities throughout south Asia, southeast Asia and east Asia for at least the last two millennia. Eurasia as a whole has been a connected land based region, home to the preponderance of the world economy and the world’s population. And by being a land-based contiguous area, that has facilitated trade and the exchange of ideas for millennia, at least we know since the active interchange between the Roman Empire and Han, China, 2000 years ago. Part of Eurasia has had a distinctive leadership role.

Some of Eurasia is desert and almost uninhabited. Some of it is tundra, frozen throughout the year with very small populations living there,but most of the population has been in a subtropical band of latitude and climate zone that some historians have christened, “the lucky latitudes.” This is one map that has roughly defined the so-called lucky latitudes, because an enormous amount of human history, population, and technological innovation has occurred in those lucky latitudes.

It is in those lucky latitudes that ideas have not only been innovated, but have been able to diffuse within a band that shares enough commonality of climate zone, of transport conditions, of disease burden and other characteristics to make it similar enough to be not a homogeneous region by any means, but a region that can share ideas and that has exchanged ideas for millennia.

It’s helpful to look at the climate zones of the world. This is a complicated, I find, and a very beautiful map, of one climate classification called the Köppen-Geiger classification. It’s a classification, color coded in this world map, that defines different regions of the world.

For example, whether they have a very low level of rainfall, that becomes one category, the so-called, B climate regions which here are yellow and beige. Those are the desert regions, or the grassland regions of low rainfall. Or regions of moderate temperature that have both winters and summers, the sometimes called temperate zones.

Those are generally in the classification system here, the C and D climate zones. And they have warm enough summers to grow crops and cold enough winters for freezing temperatures and usually no cultivation in those seasons. Such climates on this map are shown in green.

Light green areas around the Mediterranean basin for example, in what is not surprisingly called the Mediterranean climate of wet winters and dry summers. Great for growing grapes for excellent wine, famous in the Mediterranean region. Or the darker green areas which generally are more humid throughout the year. So without that dry summer season. And you can see that the eastern seaboard of the United States, much of Europe, coastal China are in that green temperate region.

Well, if you look at the lucky latitudes of Eurasia, those are generally B and C climate zones, meaning that in part they are the steppe lands or the grasslands where animals can graze, where horses can thrive and where grasslands support animal herding.

And the darker green areas, where high population densities can grow food with especially staple grains like wheat and rice with very high productivity and therefore, can support high population densities.

What’s notable about the lucky latitudes of Eurasia is that not only are they congenial in general for animal husbandry and also for staple crop production, but they are sufficiently warm, that they’re not the punishing climate of the arboreal north, but they are not so hot that they introduce the range of tropical disease burdens like year-round endemic malaria or trypanosomiasis, sleeping sickness, which made it very, very difficult for populations in tropical Africa.

So the lucky latitudes are kind of the happy middle. Not too cold, not too warm. Both crops and animal production. And with a shared band of shared climate that stretches all the way from Europe in the west to Asia in the east.

Jared Diamond[1], one of the great explicators of economic history and economic development in our time, has emphasized that this Eurasian shared ecology is the longest stretch of contiguous shared eco-zone and climate zone in the world.

Eurasia he’s pointed out as shown in this map lies broadly speaking in an east-west orientation, which from a climate perspective, referring back to the Koppen-Geiger climate classification, means a shared climate across a shared latitude, broadly speaking.

Whereas the Americas and Africa are more along a north-south axis. That means cutting from the North and the South Pole at the extremes all the way to the tropical equator so that regions like the Americas or like Africa have many, many different climate zones. And that means that diffusion of agricultural knowhow or public health remedies for disease don’t transmit so easily across ecological zones.

The lucky latitudes, in short, seem to be lucky because they have a large space for sharing knowledge, innovations in one place can diffuse to 10,000 kilometers away. Wheat can be grown all of the way from Portugal in the west all the way to the east coast of China, 10,000 kilometers away.

So lots of innovation in that band. A moderate or temperate climate which avoids the extreme dangers, transport conditions which facilitated trade, whether it was overland trade of the Silk Roads for the last 2000 years or the sea- based navigation that commenced with Vasco da Gama’s voyage from the Iberian peninsula around the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Africa, into the Indian Ocean and thereby to south Asia and to east Asia, but enabling a large band of exchange of ideas and technology.

These lucky latitudes have thereby been the major propellant of core technologies in this world. They have been lucky to be facilitated for 2000 years by modern transport, if I could call it that, of the use of horses which flourish in the steppes of Asia and thereby have played a role fundamentally in China, Europe, in western Asia throughout history and thereby have been available whereas horses could not survive the tropical climates of Africa and horses alas, had been driven to extinction with the arrival of the populations from Asia into the Americas, 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.

And so the lucky latitudes really, really were lucky. But another fact is shown here and these, this is a map of coal deposits. The red areas are known geologic deposits of coal. With the invention of the steam engine in the 18th Century and its adoption in England, in the beginning of the Industrial Age, made possible by the steam engine, the presence of coal by itself became a fundamental advantage in the diffusion of industrial knowhow.

Places with coal could develop heavy industry. Places without coal had a much greater disadvantage. Lo and behold, those lucky latitudes of Eurasia were lucky once again, because not only did they avoid the extremes of temperature, not only did they have the long transport network where ideas could flow from east to west, not only did they avoid the worst extremes of disease, they also turned out by chance to have lots of coal.

And so many parts of Eurasia again, of course western Europe, from the home of the Industrial Revolution in England and down the Rhine Valley into Germany and in parts of European Russia, parts of India and China, all were able to benefit from their coal deposits.

Alas, look at poor Africa in this story and South America, just by dint of geologic quirk, very little coal deposits in Africa. Only in north Africa and in southern Africa, all the way in the south of Africa were there any significant coal deposits.

Similarly in South America, not so much coal available. And so this became in the last two centuries yet another advantage of the lucky latitudes.

What can we conclude from this?

When we look at history, when we look at the role of China as a great progenitor of technologies for roughly 500 years, from 1000 to 1500 A.D., when we look at the role of western Europe in the last 500 years of globalization, this part of the world which took the technological lead, took the geopolitical lead that went along with its military might and its industrial power, had certain underlying geological and other geographical advantages, disease, crops productivity, mixed animal husbandry and crops production, then coal in the 19th and 20th Centuries that gave it certain advantages and helped shape the dynamics of global development.

They’re not called the “lucky latitudes” for no reason. There is real historical evidence that this part of the world has been lucky. It gave it many advantages in history and that’s where we see a lot of the innovation that created the waves of technological change, at least over the 2000 years of our investigation.


Vagas da globalização II

1.2 Prime Drivers

Thought-provoking questions:

  • What are the main drivers of change that happen at a global scale?
  • Is war a major driver of change? Why or why not?

In this chapter, I want to talk about some of the prime drivers of global scale change and especially the technological changes that have been core to these waves of globalization.

Where do they come from? How do they diffuse?

What are the fundamental patterns of global scale change that affect the dynamics of innovation and diffusion?

I think we can identify a kind of checklist, where as an analyst you would want to look at a variety of basic drivers of change to ask whether that particular set of drivers or that subset of the forces of change are playing an important role in a given historical period.

I’ll start with technology. The ability to use, invent and use tools to produce goods and services, to fight wars, to cure disease and to address other human needs. Technological change through innovation and diffusion is without question one of the fundamental drivers of global scale change in any era.

And one can identify with each of these waves of globalization, basic technologies that played a key role. In the Neolithic Revolution, for example, the invention of agriculture itself. In the Age of Navigation after Columbus and Vasco da Gama’s voyages of course navigation and naval technology in general, but also military technology in what’s sometimes called the Gunpowder Age played a fundamental role in the reshaping of geopolitics and the technology of war itself.

In our era, clearly the information revolution, computation, connectivity are reshaping the world economy Within technology we can think of particular categories of technology. Military technology has always played a fundamental shaping role in global change. And if one place in the world gains even a transitory military advantage for some reason it can have a sudden capacity to conquer other parts of the world. Transport technology is fundamental for trade, for movement of people, movement of goods and services.

Places that have been able to benefit from the technology of the horse, whether riding the horse or the horse for motive power, mobilizing energy for industrial transformation or for transportation has repeatedly shaped global change. And it’s not surprising that the era of industrialization, what I have called the fifth wave of globalization was fundamentally an energy revolution.

The revolution sometimes called the change from the organic economy, where energy was basically what we ate for our human power or what we fed our animals for animal traction, to the energy embodied in coal, oil and gas, which changed the world, vastly multiplied what humans could produce.

Information technology, other diffusion of knowledge, the diffusion of technique, the diffusion of knowhow depends on the ability to share information. Word of mouth is one way, but books and now online diffusion of information, of course are fundamental inventions of humanity that transformed the world. No doubt the invention of movable type and the printing press of Guttenberg in Europe around 1440 was a fundamental shaper that then had consequences for the birth of the global era with Columbus and Vasco da Gama just a half century later. The mass production of books made possible the scientific revolution. Today the internet is creating its own revolution and we don’t understand yet the consequences for society, for geopolitics, for statecraft, for warfare.

The physical environment, of course, creates literally the channels, the pathways, the mountain passes through which technology and change occur. And I will illustrate how climate zones are definers of pathways of diffusion.

If you look at the diffusion of wheat production, of course, it diffuses within an ecological band where wheat can be grown. That’s cooler areas, not into the tropics. Whereas maize production diffused within the tropical regions because with the different photosynthetic pathway of maize, that’s a crop that grows in a much warmer climate.

Disease patterns are profoundly determined by climate. Malaria is a warm temperature disease, either hot summers in the higher latitudes, or year round in the more equatorial latitudes of the tropics.

And so the physical climate, the topography, the mountains, the access to navigable rivers, the disease epidemiology shaped by climate, the availability or absence of wood for building ships, for building homes or the presence or absence of valuable minerals, are all fundamental drivers of both technology use themselves and patterns of diffusion of new inventions when they come.

Demography is a key shaper of global change. Where are populations growing, where are populations declining?

Where are populations young, dynamic, on the move, where are populations older and perhaps less dynamic? Where are populations moving into cities, urbanization, where are they concentrated in rural areas? Where are the sources of out-migration, where are the receiving countries for in-migration? Demographic change and demographic imbalances, when regions have very different patterns of population growth, age structures, and so forth lead to dynamics of migration.

Of course, war is a fundamental part of human history and a fundamental driver of change. War is destructive without question, but it is also an agent of technological innovation. It’s been one of the main reasons why states invest in research and development to develop new knowhow, new techniques for the purposes of national security or power in war. Conquests are ways that ideas and technologies have diffused over time. Conquests have also been reasons that technologies have stopped because conquered societies lack the freedom of maneuver to achieve their own economic development.

Ideology, revolutionary fervor is another major driver of global scale change. When Islam spread from Mecca and Medina throughout North Africa into the Iberian peninsula, into central Asia, heading east into the Middle East and into western Asia, the ideas of Islam were carried with revolutionary fervor.

Religion became a vehicle of global change, it became a carrier of new concepts, of statecraft, and also it created a civilization in which ideas, scientific and other ideas would diffuse with a common language, a common cultural framework, a set of institutions, for example, centers of learning in universities. And this is repeated throughout history.

Political institutions, how we organize and manage power within our societies.

What the great sociologist Max Weber called the Monopoly of Legitimate Violence, he state that has supposedly the legitimate power within a geographical area.

How that is organized is of course a major factor in the diffusion of global scale change. When a state power closes its national boundaries for example, that can block the diffusion of ideas and technology, that can be a barrier to change, or it can leave a nation or a region far behind other countries in technological advance, for example, thereby shaping the patterns of global scale change.

And of course, cultural institutions, how we view our place in the cosmos are fundamental. And one of the great changes of culture in the last 500 years is the rise of science as a self-understood activity of exploring the laws of nature and then using the know-how from those laws of nature to pursue in a directed way new technologies for human well-being.

And that scientific revolution of modern science began in western Europe and it is one of the factors for the world economy being reshaped by western Europe and eventually by the Anglo-American world because of that unique force of cultural change with the scientific revolution.

So this is a checklist of global drivers, they don’t play an equal role in all historical episodes, but they do help to guide your consideration of studying history or considering our current situation from a very rich, multifaceted set of perspectives.

Now I think when one studies in particular technological change it is very good to have in mind the basic idea of innovation and diffusion.

Innovation is the first invention and then application. And then diffusion is the way that that innovation spreads to other places in the world. When we think about innovation and diffusion as fundamental parts of global change, let’s remember a few key points.

First, that the pathways of diffusion are determined by physical geography. Institutions are conduits of technological knowhow. Universities have played a role as being carriers and transmitters of new ideas and technologies. There is a basic concept that I believe to be crucial in understanding economic development in general and global change in our context, and that is the idea of catching up. When a new technology has been deployed in one place in the world, but not yet in another, you have a leader and a laggard region from the perspective of that technology. And that gives at least the potential for a quick catching-up by the lagging region.

That is precisely why certain parts of the developing world have been able to achieve astounding rates of economic growth that were never seen in earlier centuries.

China, for example, we know achieved approximately 10% per year aggregate economic growth from 1978 until around 2013. And that means that for roughly 35 years the Chinese economy was doubling every seven years. And that was possible because of this catching up phenomenon.

There’s another concept that’s very important and that’s leapfrogging. And that means not only does the laggard gradually close the gap with the leader, but the laggard says, I don’t have to follow the leader, the new technology allows me to leapfrog, so I don’t have to go through all of the steps that the leader went through.

Let me take one example right now, ePayments, using our mobile phones to make payments. In eastern Africa, in Kenya, ePayments became a leapfrog technology with the invention of M-Pesa or mobile money, used for payments in Kenya.

And as a visitor to Kenya frequently, I marveled at the ease of ePayments in Kenya were in my own home in Manhattan, in New York City, it really wasn’t much present yet. Kenya had successfully leapfrogged on this technology.

And then a final concept on technological change that I think is extremely important is a difference of self-organizing evolutionary change and directed technological change. What happens when tinkerers and inventors have ideas and they innovate, they become entrepreneurs, they bring these ideas to the market. And perhaps they invent a new industry in this way.

Directed technological change comes when it’s decided we need a technology that has this particular capability. And then research and development activities are directed towards making that breakthrough. That, in fact, is how the internet itself came about, because during the 1960s, military strategists in the United States worried about how to keep communication between computers in the event of war, and more generally, how to connect computers that might be important for national security, even in a peacetime context.

And the U.S. government thereby funded a lot of the early technological work, the research and development to develop the protocols and the hardware and software of the internet itself.

That was an example of directed technological change. There’s perhaps a lot more directed change than we acknowledge, especially in the modern era where technology is firmly grounded on cutting-edge science and cutting-edge science to an important extent is funded by the state.

All of this suggests some basic lessons in the diffusion and catch-up process. The role of physical geography, the importance of low transport costs to connect a region with the rest of the world. The two sides of war, both sometimes spreading technology, often impeding the spread of technology. The fact of learning by doing and the ability to leapfrog, or at least rapidly close the gap, between a laggard and a leader. And finally, the idea of state driven, top-down you might say, directed technological change as a core feature of large-scale technological change.

Well, all of this I believe can be used to help us understand some of the deep principles, the consistent drivers of globalization at least over the most recent four waves of globalization that in my terminology and dating is a 2000-year global human history, from the great land based empires in Roman and Han imperial times up until today.


Vagas da Globalização I

1: Waves of Globalization in History

1.1 Six Major Globalizations

Thought-provoking questions:

  • When did globalization actually start? Is there a specific point in time, or were there different waves of globalization?
  • In the context of this course, what does globalization mean?

Welcome to this mini course on globalization, past and future.

We’re going to take a very quick romp through the history of globalization, starting in the deep past, at the beginning of our species and ending with reflections and thoughts and guesses about globalization in the 21st Century.

My theme is that we have always been globalized as humanity. During many epochs, global scale change, changes in technology, changes in governance, changes in politics have affected the whole world.

And understanding the dynamics of global scale change is therefore, fascinating, because it tells the story of humanity, and also useful because it gives us some grounding, some sighting, some idea about how change may occur in our time and indeed how we should work to guide the kind of change that we’re going to need in the 21st Century.

I might have called this mini course, globalizations, because we have in fact had distinct eras or distinct epochs, or you could call them waves of globalization.

And in this first module, I want to introduce those six major waves of globalization that I’m going to be discussing in this mini course and then start to take a look at the fundamental principles of how global change occurs, what are the main drivers of global change, what are the channels or pathways by which change in one part of the world diffuses to the rest of the world.

And in general, what kinds of lessons might we take from history to give us some help in understanding the tumultuous changes that are underway in our world today.

So let’s start in this first chapter about the waves of globalization.

And while one could allot history into different bins or different datings, I’m going to propose six globalizations for us to study.

The first of these is the beginning of humanity, what might be called the great dispersal of homo sapiens, our species, out of Africa and spreading throughout the whole world.

The second globalization is the Neolithic Revolution. We began as hunters and gatherers, but around 10,000 years ago, an increasing proportion of humanity became sedentary farmers. And that was the so-called Neolithic Revolution, from hunting and gathering to agriculture, from a nomadic life to a settled life in villages, and then eventually in towns, and eventually in cities.

The third globalization are the great land based empires of roughly two millennia ago. The Han Empire in China, the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean region. And the trade in between. And of course other large land-based empires of that age.

The fourth globalization that I’m going to want to discuss is in a way, kind of beginning of the modern world that we know today, it’s the globalization that took place with the discoveries of Christopher Columbus on the sea route from Europe to the Americas and Vasco da Gama on the sea route between Europe and Asia, which connected all parts of the world through ocean navigation. And that led to profound changes in geopolitics, in the world economy, in ideas and in many ways was one of the most tumultuous eras and events of human history.

The fifth globalization that I want to discuss is the Industrial Age. But I’m going to note that it’s also the Anglo-American age. It’s the period when first, the United Kingdom and then after World War II, the United States, were the dominant powers of the world and really shaped the world institutionally, in language, in the use of English as the common language for business and science throughout the world in knitting together the modern, highly integrated world economy that we live in and know of today.

And the sixth and final of these waves of globalization that I’ll discuss, it won’t be the last one, but it is the globalization that is underway today. I believe it’s a new globalization, after the Anglo-American period in which we have yet another geopolitical environment. We have yet a new technological age. We have yet new challenges for our generation and the generations to come in the 21st Century that really define this period as being yet the start of another new wave of globalization. Exciting, it’s the story of humanity.

Let’s get into it. First, what do I mean by globalization?

Of course, what I mean is the integration of basic structures of society over large geographical areas. And in the modern world, across national boundaries and regional boundaries that may include a number of nations in one part of the world. How are our societies linked together?

They’re linked together in multiple ways, obviously. They’re linked together through the trade of goods and services. When we buy a product from halfway around the world, or when we buy a service, for example, as a tourist visiting another part of the world, they are linked together through a now-global financial system where banks in one country lend to banks in other countries which then on lend to buyers and sellers of goods and services, linking together finance of course in a trillions and trillions of dollar global financial system.

It’s a system so intertwined that when a bad accident happens in one place, a financial panic such as exploded in September, 2008 with the failure of a bank in the United States, it quickly spread throughout the entire world.

We’re linked in production systems, a major company, say one of our iconic companies in the world today, Apple, producing iPhones and computers and many other products may produce the components of those products in dozens of countries, assemble them in multiple countries, ship them around the world in what we call a global value chain.

And that’s a value chain across companies and across countries and across stages of development and stages of production of a particular product.

We’re linked together in ideas. An idea that emerges in one place in the world, whether it’s the scientific idea, an artistic idea, a new ideology, a new concept, a new kind of entertainment, nowadays spreads rapidly throughout the world, but throughout human history, ideas have spread. Religious ideas, philosophical ideas, scientific ideas spread throughout the world.

We’re linked through migration. People move. And while we’re very much aware today of refugees and migrants often trying to escape war or environmental disasters and find their way to safety, migration has been absolutely at the essence of the human experience for as long as we have been homo sapiens, as long as we have been human beings.

Even our ancestors to homo sapiens, other human, members of the human genus were of course migrating and moving around the world for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years, millions of years indeed.

And finally we’re linked together by geopolitics. Politics does not stop at a national boundary, it could never stop at a national boundary. The issues of national security, war and peace, safety from dangers from other regions and so forth, this is again, a part of humanity.

Globalization means the interconnectedness of goods, services, finance, ideas, people in their movement, geopolitics and the interaction of nation states.

And we feel today this strong interdependence but interdependence has been a feature of human society forever. We didn’t invent globalization, but we do have, as has been true throughout history, our own distinct version of globalization.

What you’re looking at here is one rendering of the great dispersal, the first wave of globalization, the out of Africa dispersal. While anthropologists and archaeologists continue to uncover new and very surprising facts about the evolution of our species, it remains the overwhelming view that homo sapiens are our species, emerged in Africa in evolution of the recent hundreds of thousands of years.

And then dispersed from Africa to the rest of the world. And the genetic record increasingly is helping us to decipher that dispersal. But what this map shows is the estimated timing of arrival of the modern human species, homo sapiens into Europe, into Asia, and into the Americas where it’s believed that part of humanity from Asia crossed a land bridge perhaps 12,000 to 15,000 years ago when the sea level was much below the current level because more water was impounded in the ice sheets, before the end of the last ice age.

And then these populations dispersed throughout North and South America and became what we today would call the indigenous or native Amerindian populations of the Americas.

The point is humanity during this dispersal reached all parts of the world from an out of Africa dispersal that may have started 125,000 years ago or a 100,000 years ago, still debated. And that culminated in the arrival of populations to the Americas, perhaps somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

Much still to learn on the details. One notable point when humanity arrived almost anywhere, it seems to have contributed, perhaps together with climatic changes, to the extinction of other species.

In Australia, when populations arrived in Australia, perhaps 40,000 to 50,000 years ago many of the unique megafauna, the large animal population in Australia was driven to extinction. Best guess, humanity did it. It shows we may have a tendency towards environmental destruction.

While we sometimes think romantically that indigenous populations live in harmony with nature, there is a lot of evidence that indigenous populations destroyed nature just as we are destroying nature in our own time.

This seems to be the case as well in the Americas. When the Amerindian populations, as we would call them today, arrived from Asia between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, date still debated, it seems to coincide with the extinction of the great megafauna, the large land mammals of the Americas, the wooly mammoth and the wild horse being two dramatic examples.

Why these species went extinct is much debated. Was it climatic changes at the end of the last ice age? Was it the arrival of humanity?

Nobody knows for sure, best guess; a combination of the two. But it is a warning. The Americas, North America was filled with horses. But those horses went extinct around 10,000 or 11,000 years ago.

And that meant that the populations of the Americas did not have the benefit of horses for work and for transportation for 10,000 years, until the European conquerors came on horseback and had such advantages of power and military force that they were able to repress and even commit genocide on the local populations.

It seems to be the case that homo sapiens, our species, also may have been the leading cause of the extinction of our closest relatives, other human species, especially the Neanderthal.

We now know that homo sapiens and the Neanderthal coexisted in Europe 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. The Neanderthals went extinct but they remained part of us, modern species, in that almost all of humanity outside of Africa still carries in our genes, a fraction, small fraction of genes distinctive to the Neanderthal population. So there was interbreeding, but also perhaps mass murder, or at least a competition for food and other scarce resources that ended up with homo sapiens driving the Neanderthals to extinction.

The second great wave of globalization is the Neolithic Revolution. And here you’re looking at a map where the green-shaded areas are the places where agriculture started. What do we know?

We know that agriculture was a kind of invention. It was a process of learning and invention and breeding of wild species so that the humans began deliberately to grow and cultivate crops rather than simply to gather the natural output of crops.

And this process of developing the capacity for settled agriculture occurred independently in many parts of the world. So this is a case of multiple discoveries over a few thousand years, roughly at a similar time at the end of the last ice age and the beginning of the modern climate period called the Holocene, agriculture began to develop.

In the Eurasian context, in two major sites, the Fertile Crescent of what is now Iraq and between the Tigris and Euphrates, where wheat cultivation began. And in China, both in the Yellow Sea and the Yangtze River basins where millet and rice began to be cultivated. In the Americas, the invention of agriculture in North America was around maize. In the southwest of what is today’s United States and in parts of Mexico and in South America in the highlands of the Andes, the basis of potato cultivation. The idea is that agriculture was invented and then diffused.

Diffused means that an invention spreads geographically. This is a fundamental part of globalization; invention in one place, diffusion to other parts of the world.

When it comes to crops, the diffusion is guided by geography because crops like wheat can grow only in cool places but not in the tropics. Grains like rice grow especially in certain ecological areas, the subtropics, or monsoon environments with plenty of water and so forth. But the diffusion is carried by observation, imitation and the migration of people themselves.

The third great era of globalization that we would like to study are the ancient empires, the Roman Empire that you see on the map around the Mediterranean basin. The Han Empire that you see in east Asia where China was unified as a great nation with boundaries that are similar to China today. The Parthian Empire of today’s Iran and a civilization that has played a rich and great role in human history for 2,500 years plus.

What’s notable about this wave of globalization is massive empires. No longer small villages, but now great empires and global scale trade, massive trade between Asia and Europe, over land, over the famed Silk Roads and land routes. Of course, not the scale of trade and integration made possible by modern transport, but still already 2,000 years ago a real globalization, not that connected the Old World and the Americas, that would still take 1,500 years more to arrive with ocean-based navigation, but connecting Europe, Asia and parts of Africa in global trade already two millennia ago.

With the discoveries of ocean-based navigation between Europe and the newly Americas, following Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage and then all of the voyages that followed with the sea routes between Europe and Asia that Vasco da Gama first pioneered in 1498, the entire world became integrated in an era of globalization that one could say was really the beginning of modern globalization, in which all parts of the world, Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America were now part of a global system of trade and increasingly a global system of technology and ideas, as well.

In the last 200 years, a new phase arose, mainly because of a dramatic breakthrough of technology that we’ll be looking at, the arrival of the modern era of energy, starting with the steam engine and the progenitor of that breakthrough, the United Kingdom, really became the major power of the world.

And I would say, overwhelmingly because of that technological lead. And with the advent of the modern industrial age, Britain became the predominant power for 150 years, roughly from the start of the 19th Century to the middle of the 20th Century and then handed the baton to the United States, a country that had its roots in Britain, of course.

And one could say that the Anglo-American world, first the U.K., then the United States, dominated the world scene in an industrial age that lasted from roughly the beginning of the 19th Century, say 1800, till the end of the 20th Century, at roughly the year 2000.

Then I believe we have entered a new era, an era of the 21st Century, no longer an Anglo-American world, now a world in which power is diffuse, in which there are more centers of power and in which yet a new wave of technology, information technology is again changing the nature, the meaning, the drivers and the patterns of globalization.

What do we learn from this very, very quick overview that extends for a 100,000 years?

What do we make of this? First, change is global scale and it has been for our species from the start. The mechanisms of innovation and diffusion are fundamental. What gets invented in one place diffuses widely, maybe according to ecological characteristics where food can be grown or maybe globally, such as when the invention of the mobile phone became a worldwide technology within a very short period of time.

Change comes very, very quickly. And this I think is very important for us to understand. We have seen many unexpected changes at dramatic global scale take place that were almost unanticipated and yet with global repercussions in a short period of time.

I’ll just cite a few that we’ll look at throughout this mini course.

We went from the age of European imperialism in Africa, which began in the 1880s, to the decolonization of Africa and the rise of independent nation states in Africa roughly in three-quarters of a century.

Dramatic, fundamental, geopolitical change. We went from the invention of the Soviet Union with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the birth of the Soviet Union itself in the early 1920s, to the sudden end and dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a shocking event, little anticipated, global ramifications.

We went from British supremacy with great British power and influence and seeming predominance around 1913 to essentially the end of the British Empire just four decades later. Unimaginable. Unthinkable.

And yet it’s part of our most modern history. And perhaps we’re in a similar way seeing a rapid relative decline of American power. America thought it would run the show after the decline of the British Empire, but America’s power and weight in the world is clearly being challenged and in relative terms, other parts of the world, and notably east Asia, are becoming major, major forces of geopolitics, of technology, of the world economy and that too has proceeded very rapidly.

These are the forces that we need to grapple with. What is the nature of global change? Why does it occur? Why does it occur so suddenly? What are the dangers that take place when these mega disruptions occur?

One thing we can say is that a lot of these disruptions have been occasioned by war. And that is a reality that I believe has to be fundamental to our investigation. We can’t afford another global war. We’ve had several of them, global scale wars, but now we have the technology in which another such war could be the very end of our species.

And I often refer to the wise words of President John F. Kennedy who almost defined our modern existential reality: “The world is very different now, for man holds in his moral hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”

That is our globalization. We can’t afford to have the kinds of disruptions that we had in the past lest we lose everything.

With that in mind, with the risks that disruption brings, conflict, I want us to keep in mind three great questions as we use our backward look at globalization to try to gain insights for the future of globalization in this century.

  • First, can the world truly choose a path of shared prosperity, social inclusion for all, and environmental sustainability in this sixth wave of globalization of the 21st Century? That we could say is the challenge of sustainable development.
  • Second, how should our global governance, our geopolitics be organized if it is true as seems likely that the Anglo-American age has ended and we are now in a truly multi-polar world where there are important powers throughout the world that need to find new ways to cooperate?
  • And third, and fundamentally, is global peace possible? And on what model of statecraft and on global cooperation can we build an era of global peace?


Repovoar o património ambiental urbano – Ulipiano Bezerra Nascimento V


O objetivo maior destas reflexões foi ressaltar ser conveniente, para respeitar a natureza social do patrimônio ambiental urbano, transferir o excessivo e por vezes exclusivo foco de interesse nos bens (materiais ou imateriais), e no poder público, para os sujeitos – os agentes humanos, nas suas multiformes interações. Contudo, longe de qualquer inaceitável perspectiva relativista ou paternalista, o importante é evitar, na arena do patrimônio, atores ocultos. Assim, o protagonismo dos sujeitos aqui explícito deve ser considerado apenas como uma espécie de “ação afirmativa”, para compensar essa antiga marginalização e a consequente carência de conhecimento, principalmente em face de um quadro muitíssimo mais fornido em relação aos suportes materiais do patrimônio e seus contextos e atores hegemônicos.

Ressalve-se, ainda, que é impróprio separar sujeitos e bens. Laurajane Smith (2006) pretende que o patrimônio é mais bem entendido como processo, ou verbo, e não substantivo. Eu acrescentaria: como verbo transitivo, que necessita de objetos diretos para se realizar. Cidade e cidadão estão unidos até mesmo pelos vínculos indissolúveis da etimologia.

Aqui, o protagonismo estratégico, portanto, não pretende desqualificar nosso precioso acervo de saber já acumulado, nem desmobilizar doravante as atividades dos órgãos de patrimônio ou de pesquisa e sugerir outro paradigma.

Fundamentalmente, desejei chamar a atenção para uma lacuna que precisa ser anulada — o que certamente revitalizará o paradigma vigente. Por isso mesmo é que não toquei em aspectos práticos, organizacionais ou metodológicos de pesquisa. Desejo apenas salientar a responsabilidade especial da universidade e instituições semelhantes – aliás, positivamente convocadas para os registros de patrimônio imaterial, assim como nos levantamentos do Centro Nacional de Referência Cultural – CNRC. Por isso, o Inventário Nacional de Referências Culturais – INRC (Corsino et al., 2000) e demais inventários de patrimônio poderiam servir de ponto de partida para o desenvolvimento de alguns novos temas e abordagens. Última observação: seria bom introduzir entre as rotinas de pesquisa alguns dos protocolos da etnografia urbana (Magnani, 2002), mesmo que o objetivo não se limite a estudos de caso.

Políticas de patrimônio cultural urbano terão sempre um débito em aberto, se desconhecerem o universo de valores, que tornam humanas aquelas imbricações de vária natureza, produzidas e produtoras, na/da vida do habitante, como um todo.

Repovoar o património ambiental urbano – Ulipiano Bezerra Nascimento IV

Uma das consequências de acreditar num cânone hierarquizado é a falta de critérios para encaminhar problemas estéticos nas intervenções urbanas. Deixo de lado os problemas da «cidade multicultural» (Macagno, 2014), embora não me furte a assinalar a existência, em vários países, de códigos estéticos oficiais, guias, padrões normativos – em suma, instrumentos de controle estético, inclusive jurídico. Nessa perspectiva, é preciso recuperar o sentido presente na palavra estética originada no grego aísthesis, que significa percepção.

Restaurada no século XVIII, foi aos poucos se acomodando no território artístico (lembre-se que a arte é apenas uma das manifestações do estético). A estética concerne a mediação do eu com o mundo externo, funcionando como a ponte fundamental que os sentidos fornecem para sairmos de dentro de nós e organizarmos as múltiplas relações com o meio ambiente, com nossos semelhantes e até com o transcendente. Nesse rumo, a estética é condição de vida social, melhor dizendo, é a mediação que nos faz humanos.

Correlatamente, tem-se que associar a mediação sensorial, a sensorialidade, com o corpo, já que, como dizem os fenomenologistas, mais que termos um corpo, somos um corpo, como modo de ser no mundo – até na superação da condição corporal. Daí a importância que o corpo vem assumindo na compreensão da cidade, muito além de uma problemática funcionalista e ergonômica (Britto, Pereira e Jacques, 2010).

Fala-se hoje que haveria uma “virada sensorial” no universo das ciências sociais, gestada no interior da história, da sociologia e, sobretudo, da antropologia, a partir da década de 1980 (Howes e Classen, 2014). Daí também a proposição de questões especificamente sensoriais no campo de estudos da arquitetura, urbanismo e patrimônio, no esforço de investigar o papel do sensorial na formação das experiências da cidade. Duas posturas são recorrentes, além da cobrança de estudiosos e órgãos de planejamento e políticas urbanas, por serem lentos em incorporar a crítica do reducionismo e centralidade da visão (oculocentrismo), seja na espetacularização da cidade, seja na limitação dos estudos; em decorrência, ganham destaque a multissensorialidade/intersensorialidade.

Rapidamente começaram a surgir, nas áreas de arquitetura e urbanismo, estudos de diverso alcance e orientação. Poucos têm caráter abrangente, como, em 1996, o pequeno e famoso livro de Pallasmaa (2005, trad.bras.) e mais alguns, como Zardini (2005), com inclinação fenomenológica, num contexto museológico, ou outros poucos numa perspectiva histórica (Cowan & Steward 2007).

A maior parte dos estudos, porém, elegeu um sentido específico (além da visão, cuja abundância dispensa referências): o olfato, com seu poder de orientar fortemente os modos de experimentar espaço e lugar (Henshaw, 2014) ou servir às políticas de higienização social (Rago, 1987). A arquitetura aural não está ausente (Blesser e Salter, 2006), mas estranhamente – já que é um dos alvos prediletos da antropologia sensorial – o sentido do tato está mal representado, embora sejam numerosos os estudos do chamado haptic design, de tendência mais tecnológica, fornecedora de parâmetros para a arquitetura. Até para o paladar se encontraram algumas (poucas) pistas para iluminar os espaços urbanos (Lemasson 2006).

Do ponto de vista aqui privilegiado – o habitante –, seu peso é ainda insuficiente nesses estudos, mas as perspectivas que se abrem são alvissareiras, sem contar os insumos teórico-metodológicos. Corpo e sensorialidade implicam experiências de seres concretos e já começa a aparecer, principalmente em estudos com compromissos metodológicos, uma presença, mais que inferida, do habitante. Pinar Yelmi (2015) cuida do projeto Soundscape of Istanbul, que organiza mapas sonoros e o arquivo dos sons do cotidiano e medidas de proteção, mas também desenvolve inúmeras atividades comunitárias, como oficinas com adultos e crianças dos locais. Já Alessandra Mariani (2008) examina a recriação virtual em museu de uma “imersão sensível” de habitantes (e demais visitantes) em ambientes de Montreal, como exercício de interpretação sensorial de seu viver na cidade.

Repovoar o património ambiental urbano – Ulipiano Bezerra Nascimento III


É na França que a difusão da pesquisa de campo de tipo etnográfico, para investigar o processo do habitar ao vivo, tem produzido algumas obras que definem o habitante na experiência cultural. A coletânea La ville patrimoine (Saint-Pierre, 2014) põe em cena o caráter performático do patrimônio habitado. Habiter le patrimoine (GravariBarbas, 2005) tem, como denominador comum das diversificadas contribuições, a importância das apropriações de tempo e espaço, que vão interferir nos modos de habitar, salientando-se que o ato de “habitar um patrimônio” não é neutro. Os quinze ensaios de Les monuments sont habités (Fabre e Iuso, 2009), fruto de pesquisa francoitaliana, acentuam a historicidade dos padrões de viver em espaços patrimonializados ou nas imediações, o que torna inteligíveis as heterogeneidades, contradições e mutabilidade. A pesquisa canadense, expressa na coletânea La patrimonialisation de l’urbain (Bernier, Dormaels e Le Fur, 2012) demonstra a fecundidade desses estudos, ao diversificar as situações: apropriações de elite versus apropriações do habitante, mudanças de função, intervenção de agentes sociais, o banal e o excepcional, reações identitárias.

Valor histórico e valor estético são dois critérios fundamentais da prática cotidiana do profissional de patrimônio. Paradoxalmente, pouco se conhece das percepções do habitante urbano. Grande parte dos estudos do imaginário, das representações sociais, da iconografia etc. dedica-se à legibilidade da cidade e suas projeções – opção legítima –, mas tem deixado à sombra o “leitor” concreto, contextualizado e histórico dessa mesma cidade-imagem (Meneses, 1996).

A história acadêmica começa a esboçar caminhos para desfazer essa sombra, principalmente na Inglaterra e nos Estados Unidos. David Carr (2014) acredita numa abordagem fenomenológica, em que, em vez de perguntar o que é história ou como se conhece história – para nós: o que é histórico no patrimônio? –, procura saber como as pessoas vivem a história na dimensão de fenômeno. O que se privilegia é a experiência do histórico, como a história se apresenta, entra na vida das pessoas, quais as formas de existir que ela configura. Para tanto, trabalha com o espaço vivido, o tempo vivido, inclusive o “tempo cultural”. Carr trata tais questões como matéria de teoria da história e não se preocupa com estudos empíricos. Interesses comparáveis dominam no campo conhecido como da história pública, basicamente história não acadêmica, cuja ambição é socializar o mais possível o conhecimento histórico e cujo efeito constitui também objeto de pesquisa (Beck, 2012).

O que mais nos interessa da história pública são os estudos de consumo da história, como ocorre na obra de Jerome de Groot (2009) apoiada em experiências no Reino Unido, EUA, França e Alemanha. Aqui, o objetivo é examinar como a sociedade incorpora a história, possibilitando um melhor entendimento da cultura popular. Para tanto, valem todos os suportes de representações: TV, “docudramas”, cinema, mídia impressa e eletrônica, games, literatura (romances históricos ou “de época”, livros para crianças), quadrinhos, museus, etc. No bojo da história pública vem se desenvolvendo uma disciplina que tem recebido o nome de história popular, de que Roy Rosenzweig (2013) é referência. Para ele, o que importa, mais que a interpretação popular dos conteúdos recebidos, como fazia uma insuficiente sociologia da recepção, é a própria produção nova de sentidos, na concretude dos múltiplos contextos e nos efeitos da mútua interação, na esteira de uma sociologia da apropriação cultural.

Em relação à estética, é de notar que a expressão estética urbana presta-se a muitos significados mal circunscritos. Tanto pode ser a cidade como obra de arte, componente histórico da forma urbana, quanto a “ornamentação” da cidade (como nos antigos planos de “embelezamento”), ou, mais adequadamente, nos modos de qualificação ou requalificação de áreas da cidade (incluindo o paisagismo). Já a fluida categoria arte pública acentua conteúdos espaciais e frequentemente assume sentidos políticos como forma de apropriação do espaço urbano em modalidades, tais como o grafite, o teatro, a dança e a música de rua etc. A expressão, ainda, tem a ver com a morfologia urbana, com a paisagem urbana (categorias muitas vezes superpostas); tem a vantagem de colocar a forma como um problema crucial para a vida urbana. Todavia, a contaminação da estética por hierarquias de cânone ou estilo restringe muito seu sentido.

Quando se faz do habitante sujeito da cidade, a estética urbana deveria incluí-lo como produtor de experiências estéticas, apto a estetizar seu ambiente. Para tanto, é a prática da cidade – antes de mais nada, a prática do espaço – que lhe fornece os insumos, através dos quais ele procura inteligibilidade e fruição no cotidiano. A estética é condição seminal para a cidade significar, gerando subjetivação. Assim, numa condição excessivamente utilitária do espaço como a nossa, em prejuízo de conteúdos perceptivos, simbólicos, axiológicos, dá-se aquela redução semântica, de que falava Lepetit 200:144), com embaçamento da possibilidade de significar fomentando a alienação ou o stress.

“Produzir sentido, no mundo, envolve interpretá-lo como sensível”, é ideia que percorre o livro clássico de Mary Douglas (1996:49). Mais uma vez, porém, a estética do citadino comum não despertou interesse, embora haja exceções: uma delas, de novo, é a favela, na visão de Paola B. Jacques (2001), como ocasião de tomar a estética como um sistema perceptivo próprio, com seus traços próprios, componente do mundo real que se quer conhecer e que organiza a apropriação corporal do espaço, incluindo as múltiplas dimensões, valores e práticas do cotidiano, das contingências e das escolhas.