The Industrial Revolution in World History

By Peter N. Stearns | Go to book overview

10
The Industrial Revolution in International Context

Even in 1950 most people in the world lived in societies that were not, at least as yet, engaged in a full industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was still geographically concentrated in Europe (now including east-central regions like Poland and Czechoslovakia plus parts of Spain and Italy), Russia, Japan, and much of North America. Most of Asia and virtually all of Africa and Latin America were not yet industrialized. However, the spread and intensification of the industrial revolution inevitably had far greater world impact than during the revolution's earlier decades. Shipping increased in volume as international trade climbed, while the airplane and radio speeded communication worldwide.

Within this context, several regional reactions to the industrial revolution took shape. First, there was heightened exploitation of nonindustrial areas by the grasping industrial economies. Africa was more fully drawn into the process of supplying foods and raw materials to slake the seemingly unquenchable thirst of industrial Europe. Japan began exploiting raw-materials areas in Southeast Asia. Europe but particularly the United States increased the use of Latin America as a source of cheap supplies. Indeed, North-South trading began to gain ground with great rapidity as large sections of the Northern Hemisphere industrialized and used areas in the Southern Hemisphere for supplies and materials. Western Europe used Africa as its primary reserve, the United States used Latin America, and, more tentatively, Japan began carving out a zone in eastern Asia.

Second, concomitant with the growing industrial reliance on raw-materials suppliers (and the dependence of the latter on investments and manufactured goods from the industrialized states) was an important extension of manufacturing, including factory production, in centers that were not yet industrialized in any full sense. Many of these centers produced relatively cheap factory goods for sale to the industrial West. They experienced considerable economic change, in

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