Throughout history humankind has progressively evolved from one epoch to the other, in terms of technology and activities. Of all living beings, humankind is the only rational being. This aspect has seen humankind desire to dominate and subjugate the world. Wars of conquest have existed since humankind surfaced on the face of the Earth. In the desire to dominate, different civilizations have emerged, technological advancements made and consequently humankind has travelled throughout the world exploring, trading, and spreading various religions and ideologies. This aspect of interaction and discoveries was revolutionized especially from 1500 to 1800, which is referred to as the first phase. Human beings have a dynamic lifestyle that is constantly in a state of flux.
In the contemporary modern world, most countries are restructuring themselves in almost all sectors like marketing to be in line with the concept of globalization. Globalization has become the fashionable trend that everybody is trying to conform to in all sectors. The improvement of Information and technology has played a major part in globalization. Markets have become liberalized, with multinational companies dominating global businesses. After the domination of America for most part of the twentieth century, the East led by China is now becoming the trailblazers in world affairs and globalization. However, the modern state of affairs dates back to the 1500. The modern situation could best be understood by first looking at the pioneering epoch, which is from 1500 to 1800.
During the 16th Century onwards, the world experienced major and drastic changes. Trade during the 1500 intensified all over the world in what can be referred to as the age of exploration. European nations were the most dominant during this period. The Europeans explored the just discovered new lands of Americas and Oceania, in the process, trading with those they found in these new areas, waging warfare on the natives, subjugating them and establishing their cultures. Europeans on their way to India happened to discover that East Africa was an important base to enable them conduct business with the Far East efficiently (Abu-Lughod 21).
After Vasco Da Gama had toured the region and reported to the king in Portugal, the Portuguese attacked East Africa and took over towns like Kilwa and Mombasa that were very hostile to the Portuguese. They established their base in Malindi town, which was a bit friendly. Vasco Da Gama erected a pillar and placed a cross on top in Malindi to signify the arrival of Christianity. Arabs who were Muslims had dominated the Coast of Africa at the time. Europeans also engaged in massive trading activities with Far East countries like Japan and China. Chinese ceramics became very popular in Europe.
When the Americas were fully occupied by the European nations, the Europeans established plantations to provide raw materials for industries in Europe. In order to secure cheap, reliable, and sufficient labour for the plantations, European Nations attacked Africa in search of slaves in what came to be referred to as the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Many wars were fought especially on the coast of West Africa and since Europeans had superior weapons, many Africans were taken to America as slaves. Many kingdoms collapsed in this region of West Africa, families were split up and a lot of human suffering was witnessed. Since the males were the most enslaved, the male population in the area decreased rapidly forcing the female population to step up to perform the tasks that were traditionally performed by men especially the physically challenging tasks like tilling the land
After 1500, major scientific innovations and discoveries were also made. Copernicus was the first of this generation to make a major discovery. Copernicus observed that the sun was actually at the centre of the solar system and not the Earth. He observed that, actually, the earth revolves around the sun, not the sun revolves around the earth. His discoveries put him at hot spot as science collided with religion. The church was the most dominant and influential body of the time. Those who opposed the church were executed, or excommunicated. However, with later scientists like Galileo supporting Copernicus and using the periscope to support their claims, a new era of scientific revolution had been born. Martin Luther also challenged the church and the protestant movement was born.
Rene Descartes came up with rationalism as the main source of knowledge in epistemology. Descartes asserted that knowledge was from thinking alone and came up with the rationalistic theory. This assertion saw the emergence of the empiricism theory in opposition to Descartes. Empiricists asserted that knowledge was from the sense and everything else must fall under sense perception. In the process of trying to prove who was right, they ended up making discoveries and contributions. Descartes became an influential figure in mathematics and philosophy (Faroqui 17).
Francis Bacon an empiricist came up with the scientific method. Bacon method advocated for the use of experiments and observations then analyze the results using inductive method of inference. This has become a founding point of modern science, which relies more on empiricism. Isaac Newton the British scientist also became an influential scientific figure in the 17th Century. Isaac Newton discovery of the law of gravity solved many scientific questions. Newton also contributed heavily in mathematics as he advanced linear equations. Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher reconciled rationalism and empiricism with his transcendental inference, further contributing to the age of enlightenment.
After much political turmoil in Europe like the French Revolution, another new era of development dawned. This was the Industrial Revolution, which forever changed the course of history. Gender roles in society were harmonized as both men and women started working together in industries. Women took roles that were traditionally reserved for men, like coal mining. This was due to the increase in demand of labour. Children were also used as unskilled casual labourers in many sectors. The movement of people into industrial centres led to urbanization. Towns rapidly grew and rural urban migration trend became widespread. Population of the countries of Europe almost doubled, with class society emerging. This saw Karl Marx classification of society claiming that economy is the most influential tool in shaping the society (Todorov 57).
The Industrial revolution further led to national consciousness. States like Ireland started to consider themselves as one independent sovereign state. In this era of nationalism, nations competed with one another for supremacy, which led to acquisition of oversees colonies. Migration of people to the new lands also became rapid. Items of trade were in surplus and this prompted European nations to acquire colonies in order to create ready markets for goods produced by their industries. Religion movements also united in an effort to spread the gospel. In colonized African countries, the church, schools, and hospitals were established in one area. The church used the political class for protection and thus the church and politics went hand in hand. The Islamic influence in Africa was drastically reduced as all Islamic occupiers were forced out of Africa. Japan also became very much involved in the acquisition of colonies in the Far East. Japan became a dominant force, which forcefully occupied and imposed its rule on China.
‘‘The Trans Atlantic Trade was very crucial to the European nations. The plantations in the Americas were the chief sources of raw materials for the blossoming industries in Europe as well for the already established industries.’’ (Goffman 45). The Industrial revolution being first experienced in Britain further made Britain a global power. She became dominant and hence acquired the most coveted colonies during the era of colonialism and exploration. Britain powers surpassed those of other European nations like Portugal, which had been the most powerful nations then. The new lands of the Americas and Australia were used to fetch raw materials, settle surplus population as well as markets for the processed goods from Europe. Initially Britain was very successful as it reaped heavily from the activities in America. However, as time passed by, America started to experience a renaissance of its own kind. Discoveries started to be made one after the other in what came to be called as the American Renaissance.
The American Renaissance brought about much success to the American economy. With a booming economy, America started to become self reliant until it become strong enough to rebel against the British in what came to be referred to as the American Revolution. American Revolution made America to emerge victorious. The country embarked on massive economic development. The American foreign policy discouraged the country from engaging in international matters rather all efforts should be channelled towards economic development. Eventually America became the most industrialized nation on earth. After World War 2 America emerged as one of the two superpowers in the world. Britain’s involvement in world affairs dwindled as the US influence increased.
After the 1800 epoch, the competition of nations among many other reasons led to the outbreak of the First World War. In this war, millions of people lost their lives with a lot of human suffering all over the world. Germany lost her colonies after being defeated in the war. After the war, various changes occurred, however, competition among nations continued. When Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy, he allied himself with Adolf Hitler, the German leader. Hitler was aggressive and insatiable; his attack on Poland led to the Second World War. World War 2 came with suffering never seen before. The US used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan causing major suffering and the effects are still felt up to date. Hitler massacred over six million Jews. After World War 2, Soviet Union and the US emerged as the super powers each with different ideologies consequently leading to the Cold War. During the cold war no military confrontation was ever witnessed rather, it was the competition on the world stage each nation discrediting the other and looking for allies. Cold War ended with the fall of the Soviet Union and communism (Gunn 40).
After being passed by the industrial revolution, China closed its economy from foreign investors. In so doing, all companies were Chinese owned. This means that with such a huge population, Chinese companies were able to benefit immensely from the availed ready markets and cheap labour. As a result, China has become very industrialized and successful. ‘‘Chinese economy has become the second biggest economy only second to that of the US. China is now dominating in the manufacturing of many products in the world thus its policy of relying on local ownership made it to reap immense benefits.’’ (Kulke and Rothermund 203).
Many issues have preoccupied humankind in the modern era. The racial discrimination in America has always been a hot topic. Many key figures like Martin Luther King have come out in condemnation of segregation. The tension between Israel and Palestine, Iraq Invasion of Kuwait, Independence of African states from colonialism, terrorism and Jihad wars have been the controversial issues of the contemporary world. From 1500, it has been observed that humankind has progressively evolved. The setting of 1500, 1600, 1700 and so on has been improving with each century. The 21st century has become the era of the internet and globalization. The different epochs have clearly shown that humankind activities are dynamic, in a state of flux and keeps on improving in all sectors. This can be used to project the future based on the past, future world wars be averted, and collaborations improved. The 1500-1800 period was thus the landmark period that lay the foundation of the current leading economies in the world, especially that of the US and China. After that period, Britain’s influence decreased significantly. In the contemporary modern world, the US and China dictate the process of globalization.
Abu-Lughod, Janet. Before European Hegemony: The World System AD 1250-1350. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Faroqui, Suraiya. The Ottoman Empire and the World around It. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007.
Goffman, Daniel. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Gunn, Geoffrey. First Globalization: The Eurasian Exchange, 1500-1800, Lanham: Rowman, Littlefield Publishers, 2003.
Kulke, Herman and Rothermund, Dietmar. A History of India, 4th ed. London: Routledge, 1986.
Todorov, Tzvetan. The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.