One should also briefly
mention that from a historical point of view,
Eurocentrism tended to conflate globalization.
Already around the year 500 AD of the European calender, the Persians, Arabs, Africans, Javanese, Jews, Indians and Chinese created and maintained a ‘global economy’. Whereby ‘the East’ enabled the rise of the West through two main processes: diffusionism/assimilationism and appropriationism. Note that I use the term 'Middle East' rather than 'West Asia' only because the former term is more recognizable to the general reader.
First, the Easterners created a global economy and global communications network after 500 along which the more advanced Eastern 'resource portfolios' (e.g. Eastern ideas, institutions and technologies) diffused across to the West, where they were subsequently assimilated, through what I call oriental globalisation. And second, Western imperialism after 1492 led the Europeans to appropriate all manner of Eastern economic resources to enable the rise of the West. In short, the West did not autonomously pioneer its own development in the absence of Eastern help. And finally the European ‘Globalization’ discourse completed by the 1930’s, in fact emerged during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Thus the Italian merchant communes can equally be seen as derivative of the wider innovative developments pioneered in the Eastern-led global economy. And the European Renaissance and scientific revolution considered from the perspective of the Islamic Middle East and North Africa instead of Tuscany.
The map below shows trade routs around 1400, and although this was followed by the so-called European “age of discovery” globalisation of course began well before 1500, as regional civilisations were never insulated from each other. So rather than the manufactured clash of civilizations, as pointed out in my seminar of February 14-15, 2004, we need to concentrate on the slow working together of cultures from the East, that reject the constructed bipolarism of East and West. By rediscovering from an unbiased position the global-collective past we make possible a better future for all, so this is what we take a look at here.
Western states have been far less rational and democratic during the period of the breakthrough than has been proposed by western scholars during the 20th century. This necessarily falsifies the claim that the East and West have been separated by a civilizational Great Divide, and robs Euro centrism of its principal explanation of the rise of the West. The fundamental issue now at stake, therefore, concerns locating a more appropriate question with which to begin our analysis of the rise of the West, plus the development of a more appropriate answer.
Systema Naturae (1735), described four races of man within a hierarchy: white, yellow, red and black (with the whites at the top). Then in 1758 Carl Linnaeus divided genus homo into two: the second group included the orang-outang and certain wild men who could not speak but none the less had emotions. Because the Blacks were placed one notch above the 'tail-less' orang-outang, and because the gradations between each member on the scale were small, it was concluded that the Negro was at the bottom of human civilisation standing only just above the orang-outang.
In 1999 my history of ideas of “Reformed Aryans, in East and West”, concluded that had racism not existed and had the West viewed the Eastern peoples as equal human beings, imperialism might never have occurred. The next step seemed as Henry Reynolds pointed out the same year;” Perhaps the strongest reason for researching the Afro-Asian (see his “Black Pioneers” 2000) is the realization that they had made a significant contribution to the development of the West”. In today’s lecture “What the East Thought the West” I now present related issues in a wider context.
Colonialism and Industrialisation: History's Revenge in the Age of Globalization
The greatest legacy of the Portuguese, Dutch, and English, seaborne 'empire' as we have seen above thus was not how much but how little things changed in terms of Asia's dominance of the global economy between 1500 and 1750/1800. The conclusion is hard to avoid: the 'European age' or the 'Vasco da Gama epoch of Asia' turns out to be but retrospective Eurocentric wishful thinking. In fact South and S.East Asia, Japan, China as well as the Ottoman and Persian empires were economically and politically strong enough to resist the European incursion, at least until about 1800.
In fact la chinoiserie, from porcelain and silks to politics and philosophy, was very much in vogue in mid-eighteenth-century France. The notion that political and social systems could be improved by imitating the Chinese was shared by renowned European philosophes from Leibnitz to Voltaire. (See J. Baruzzi, Leibnitz et l'organisation de la terre, Paris, 1909.) They believed that China might help ruling elites to solve the most perplexing political puzzle of the century - how to introduce Enlightenment ideas without disturbing the political and social foundations of absolutist regimes. The best supporting evidence for this, of course, is to be found in Mtontesquieu's Esprit des lois, Us. 8 and 9.
From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, most migratory flows originated in Europe and Asia and were destined for core countries. But since the end of World War II and the decline of the European colonial empires, new regions have become the target of migratory flows. Current figures show that although many migrants are still moving to core regions, not all are. There are also major patterns of migration within Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Thus, at the same time that there are global flows of migrants, there are also significant regional flows.
Globalization and Economics: A Search for the Holy Grail?
Humans tend to see
themselves as living in a civilization. And they understand civilization to be centred on a shared destiny, often called the
public good. Today our obsession with
a certain kind of austere, abstracted
measurement is closely tied to
the idea of a civilization that believes it
is being led by economics.
That sort of leadership involves
a bizarre contradiction: an aggressive certainty that these economics can be measured
with great precision versus a passive certainty
that they can only very
marginally be shaped. Aggressive on the details, passive on the larger picture.
A recent bestseller titled “The World is Flat,” is constructed from powerful metaphors and vivid images backed up by a few personal anecdotes. But of course it is not true. The real facts, which would undermine the flat-earth metaphor, remain invisible or nearly so, because we are so conditioned to connect the-image dots. The argument of a race to the top, driven by more and better education everywhere, could easily turn the argument around. The flat world is a threat, and the only way to keep out threats is to close our borders and close our minds. Where a few places, are on the leading edge of how to build a society with a constantly evolving set of citizens and cultures, others are in complete denial of what is happening to them or soon will happen.
March 17, 2006: Postscript: Where did all the Money Go?