Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in the Era of Independence
During the era of decolonization, Western colonial powers tried to maintain control of their holdings, either through direct military intervention or through more subtle economic tactics. Local leaders were often supported if they agreed to repress popular uprisings, especially those motivated by the desire for democracy. Often times the Cold War offered Western powers a pretext for their draconian measures: “Perhaps we’re supporting a tyrant but it’s necessary. If we don’t keep control at whatever the cost, then this country might go red and fall in line with the communists. These puppet dictators are a means to an end–albeit a noble end.” This happened in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Those with a more cynical view on the matter suggest that these harsh and repressive Western-supported tactics were done to guarantee “client states”; that is, states who would be beholden to Western interests and who would supply natural resources (ie. oil) as conveniently and cheaply as possible.
Read/Watch this Adam Curtis blog from the BBC. In it he takes a look at the repressive history in Bahrain and Britain’s involvement in it.
“The Bandas can tell us quite a bit about economics. The lessons these islands offer have to do with the impact of global trade and how that trade shapes and defines the fortunes of nations and peoples. They also provide a cautionary tale, of the damage trade can do– if, and here’s the key point, those in charge don’t adapt to the change trade inevitably creates.”
This recent Time article puts some of the history we’ve been reading into context. It deals with the rise and fall of European mercantilist powers and the one-time-lucrative spice trade in the South Pacific. Read it HERE and complete a set of dialectical notes.
What is the Protestant Work Ethic? Look it up online (use more than one source) and write a half-page summary. Who came up with the idea? What sorts of arguments is the idea based upon? Lastly, do you think it is a credible idea; does it accurately explain why Western European peoples of Protestant belief accumulated more wealth and demonstrated more material productivity in comparison to their Catholic neighbors or others civilizations at the time?
The Renaissance led to a flurry of new economic activity. Italy, because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean, became one of Europe’s financial hubs. Newfound wealth in places like Florence resulted in an explosion of patronage for the arts. Banking and economics played a critical roll in this revolution. Today’s complicated economic world of investment, trading and financialization, all the stocks, bonds, derivatives, credit default swaps, and mortgage-backed securities, much of this–whether good or bad–can be traced back to the explosion of finance that happened in the West during the Renaissance. Get a better grasp on history. Learn some economic history. Watch Niall Ferguson’s documentary “The Ascent of Money,” at least the first hour of it.