History 262 – History of Civilization II
The modern era began with the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century and accelerated through the first half of the twentieth century. Although this span of time included many dissenting voices, in general it could be described as an Age of Scientific Reason. The premodern classicists of Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages, of course, developed reason, to dizzying heights. Science had its origins among Bible-believing Christians of the seventeenth century. But the scientific reason of modernism excluded on principle everything that could not be seen, measured, and empirically analyzed. Revelation was ruled out as a means of knowledge, and belief in a supernatural realm that transcended the visible universe was dismissed as primitive superstition. Not only did modernists believe in the inerrancy of science, they also had a devout faith in progress. The “modern,” almost by definition, was superior to the past. The future would be even better. Modernists genuinely believed that science would answer all questions and that the application of scientific principles would solve all social problems. Through rational planning, applied technology, and social manipulation, experts could engineer the perfect society.
At the time, “west” was Western Europe. It included all developed countries like France, Spain, England, Germany and Italy. “West” was a term used to describe advanced civilizations, highly developed by the means of their economy and power. Today term “west” when used in Europe in those very same countries describes only one thing – America! Webster dictionary describes west as, “the Western hemisphere, or the New World so called, it having been discovered by sailing westward from Europe; the Occident.” When North America was being settled by Europeans, all of the culture and knowledge was “transported” over the Atlantic Ocean.
The French Revolution and American Revolution set the pattern for Western politics in the centuries to come. Both of them erupted as the result over pre-revolutionary financial disputes about the principles of the 18th century monarchy. Before the revolutions kings had absolute power over the kingdom and colonies that belonged to the monarchy. After the revolutions in America and France, The American Declaration of Independence declared (and it still does) that all the people enjoyed the “inalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen declared, “all men were born and remain free and equal in rights.”
Since then, the West has been changing every day. In the beginning it started with slavery and cotton plants. Tobacco plants were source of money at the time as well. When the Industrial Revolution changed the economy, many farmers lost their jobs. All of the people were moving into the big cities and leaving their lands behind. Machines changed the whole world. As the word implies the “Industrial Revolution” is best known for ushering in new forms of manufacturing and production, especially that of heavy industry. It launched an era of factories, concentrated labor, and new machinery, too expensive for the home and requiring large power sources. Many new inventions came out such as steamboat, trains and network of the railroads, and cotton gin. Today we have terms such as space shuttle, computer, Internet, cars, airplanes…the words that is our world shaped by.
I would feel free to say that today West influences the rest of the world, one way or the other. Most of it goes through the highly developed economy, international business in which the west is the dominant one, and sometimes even though army force. Strong alliances, such as NATO (which is consisted of mostly western powerful countries) divide this world into the two obvious parts – the developed countries and “third world” countries. It is not a secret that the US is the number one power when it comes to economy, business, technology and army. Those are the four most important factors that keep America dominant nation in the west and in the rest of world. With these areas being highly developed, it is very easy to establish a political dominance as well.
Nobody knows how long will this world order remain the same, but the truth is the west is getting richer and more powerful while third world is getting poorer and taken over by more powerful countries. Economical world order is almost harsh as the natural food chain. The bigger and stronger “eat” smaller and weaker. It has been like that since of the beginning of the world, and it will probably stay like that until the end