From Colony to Nation State to Globalization

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Our world does not have a long history; if not in religious sense then at least in political and economic evolution. The Paleolithic phase (Old Stone Age) entered into Neolithic phase (New Stone Age) around 10, 000 B.C. The hunter gatherers started agriculture around 8000 B.C. and it was the yield of surplus grain that gave rise to trade between the tillers in the suburbs and the city dwellers who were mainly manufacturers of Bronze Age. This period being insignificant till 2100 B.C. once Hammurabi of Babylon introduced the earliest law code. There existed in these times the oldest civilizations like Mesopotamian (3500 B.C.), Egyptian (3000 B.C.) and Harrapan (2500 B.C.). The Greek City States and Iranian empire struggled around 700 B.C. to 300 B.C. The Roman Empire – replacing Roman Republic – was founded in 27 B.C. and perished in 476 A.D. The various religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam emerged from 600 B.C. to 600 A.D. The known history from this moment onwards was dominated by the kings and monarch in all parts of the world and among followers of all religions. Then began the phase of colonialism from the 15th century and lasted (in physical domain) till 20th century. However, the critics are of the view that the colonialism continues till to-date in the form of neo-colonialism. In April 1492, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, after ending Muslims’ rule in Spain, dispatched Christopher Columbus on a sea voyage that culminated on discovery of American continent. Only five years later, on 8 July 1497, Portuguese King Manuel sent Vasco da Gama – in command of four ships and 170 men – on a mission that took him to found India. The rest is history. In following centuries, Portugal, Spain, England, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy were able to colonize almost entire America, Africa and most part of the Asia. Those who got colonized were more in numbers, fought in their own lands, but were vanquished by usually a smaller minority from European peninsula. Historian Niall Ferguson in his book “Civilization: The West and the Rest” has found six factors in this rise of the West. These are: 1) competition; 2) science; 3) property rights; 4) medicines; 5) the consumer society; and, 6) the work ethic (p.12). The West passed through various stages like Renaissance (13th century), Reformation (16th century), Enlightenment (late 18th century), and, Industrial Revolution (18th century). During all these phases, different phenomena were taking place, like: struggle for individual freedom, rise of a trading class, reducing the powers of monarchs and kings, secularization of politics, emergence of the nation-state etc. During this period, the French Revolution (1789) and American Revolution (1776) took place that ushered in the lasting notions of a responsible republic and a representative government. In 1776, Adam Smith wrote “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” that gave birth to capitalism. He prophesied that serving the individual interest would actually promote the collective interest through an ‘invisible hand’. Karl Marx contrarily wrote “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848 and “Das Kapital” in 1867 that battled against unbridled forces of capitalism. John Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire wrote treatises that advocated for democracy and more republican form of the government. These were the formative years of the West when citizens learnt to live through the notions of democracy, work ethics and, of obligations and duties being citizen of a nation-state. Capitalism and the capitalists were soon to realize that the worker was also a consumer and his interests were to be protected. Therefore, wages raised, working conditions improved and the consumer was protected to a level that the interests of owners were not hurt. The inner debate and dialogue in the societies continued for the good of citizenry. The very people participated and evolved percepts of a better and powerful world that others could not resist and were colonized. The wars by the kings abhorred, and the national wars fought, eventually convinced the warrior nations to find peaceful norms of competition and survival. In nutshell, the kings were rejected by the society, freedom was won by the individual, economy and politics was transformed to a degree that the West achieved edge on other parts of the world. The occupation of vast colonial empires in far off lands is testimony to this superior edge over others. tmabbasi@yahoo.com

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