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Introduction to the XX century:

- Nation-states are the successful organizations, some have industrialized and
colonized most of Africa and much of Asia; moreover some theories like
Social Darwinism and Nationalism have spread with a result of developing
racist ideas of the their superiority (Europeans, Americans and Japanese)
- Two World Wars and after the second one end of the colonial world and
beginning of a new kind of war, Cold War between the two new superpowers,
- Century of globalization and especially in two great waves, after the WW2
(1945) and after USSR collapse (1991) BUT the gap btw rich and poor
countries instead of narrow becomes greater and greater
- We speak about a Great Departure because the dependence of the modern
world on fossil fuels led an historian to think that the XX century is a major
break with the past in regard to the relationship of human beings to the
global environment, and the beginning of an uncontrolled gamble that this
way to organizing the globe will not undermine the ecological bases for life
on earth. It means also that the core of global wealth and power from West
Europe moved to the USA that had the largest and most productive economy
at the beginning of the century, although few understood it at the time. Not
to forget the rise of China in the last decade which invaded American market
with consumer goods that allowed Chinese to earn loads of dollars with
which they bought US Treasury Shares.
1910 invented the process to produce nitrates industrially by synthesize
ammonia (process Haber-Bosch to solve a problem that become pressing due to
Germanys vulnerabilities). Nitrates are necessary to obtain the gunpowder and
to produce synthesized fertilizer in order to increase food production and finally
leave the constraints of the biological old regime also in agriculture.
Finally population can increase.
The XX century presents a 30 years period made of global wars and a great
depression; because the big interest of every industrialized state is to obtain
colonies in other continents, there is worry that competition in Asia would bring
to war:
- WWI: instead of Asia, it is ignited in the Balkans when Archduke Ferdinand is
killed in Sarajevo, recently absorbed by the Austria-Hungarian Empire. It was
July 1914.
2 blocks:
1) Triple Entente with Britain, France, Russia + Japan and Britains
dominions (Australia, New Zealand, Canada) and from 1917 USA
2) Central Powers with Germany, Austria-Hungarian Empire +
Ottoman Empire
1918 called armistice and Versailles Peace Conference to decide the
terms of ending war:
Disappointment for British and French colonies that fought for them to
get a good treatment (e.g. China to recover Shandong peninsula that
had been taken by Germany in 1898 and unleashed the Scramble for
Concessions in China)

Disappointment for Arabs that revolted against Ottoman Empire to

obtain the independence France and UK took mandates to control
the former Ottoman Empire (Syria to France, Iraq and Palestine to UK)
German resentment because not having surrendered thought to have
voice about what was happening instead France took back AlsaceLorraine, Austria-Hungarian Empire taken apart, pay huge reparations
and Shandong peninsula to Japan
Begin to arise German resentment and national independence
movements against imperialism and colonialism
- 1917 Russian Revolution that challenged the capitalist world:
Bolsheviks under Lenins command take power
First Communist state was born
1923 Stalin consolidates power and push toward industrialization
(planned economy using only Russian resources and not having
contact with the capitalist world)
- Post-WW1: in India Gandhi created a non-violent movement of civil
disobedience boycotting British goods and pushing to obtain a Congress
Party in which both Hindu and Muslim are equally represented; also Egypt;
Palestine; Vietnam nationalism fuels colonial independence movements
- Great Depression: in 1920s few realized that USAs capital was keeping the
global system afloat. A problem of oversupply of food arises and provoked a
sharp decline of prices and farmers that couldnt repay loans taken to
increase the production before + decline of prices of coffee and sugar,
typical exports of Latin America result: people cant afford to buy
manufactured goods to protect national manufactures, states raises tariffs
on imported goods, USA called in the loans made to EU countries panic of
investors Black Monday and stock market crash downward spiral all
over the world (not USSR) great depression is the global crisis of
capitalism which states try to solve for ex. USA Roosevelt creating a net of
social safety New Deal or in Germany with National Socialist Party in 1933
(strong leader to get Germany out of the crisis), Japan creating militarily
aggressive regime (it saw dependence on market as a mistake)
Right thing to do to get out of the depression would have been to
increase the international trade, not to close in autarky!
- WW2: Hitler wants to reconstitute empire in central and eastern Europe so it
annex in 1938 Austria, Czechoslovakia and in 1939 Poland which had
protection granted by UK and France which declared war to Germany
1941 USA joins the Allies because of Pearl Harbor Japanese attack and USSR
because of non-aggression not respected VS Axis
Total war included the use of the force against civilians as well
War (like the previous) worse because of industrial innovations
(poisons, warships, tanks, submarines and in 1945 the first atomic
Post-WW2: total-war meant total-defeat
- Every states had to abandon colonies because they couldnt reconstitute
China: 1949 Peoples Republic of China is born because civil war has
brought Chinese communist party to the power and it push toward a
pursuit of economic development and industrialization to be strong
and not threatened anymore by foreigners.

That idea was tested in 1950 with Korea War against USA
Lets consider that USA battled also against Northern Vietnam
in the mid 1960s when the Southern Vietnam had difficulties
governing it and was attacked by Viet Minh guerrilla fighters
USA defeated and Vietnam reunited under communist
India: Gandhi requested Congress party for multiethnic and
multireligion India, but Muslim party not neither Hindu nationalists
1947 Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan were born, but Kashmire
remained source of tension
Consider Partition: process of decolonization drawing arbitrary
borders without considering ethnic group nor religion (problem
for Africa where there werent any state before; ex. Kurds that
are a people without a state) and also for India (huge
movement of people)
Number of nation-states increases from about 50 to 127 by
- Consider that in the decades after the WW2 Asians, Africans and Latin
Americans were determined to use their newfound independence to improve
and industrialize BUT because of bad experience with capitalist world for the
most part they chose a socialist and communist pattern danger for USA
that had the objective to expand capitalism in order to export more and
stimulate its industries
Cold War: two new superpowers from the WW2 USA and USSR
- USA: leads in establishing international institutions like United Nations to
resolve international conflicts, World Bank and IMF to manage the global
USA decides to revive EU economy, also Japan economy to combat Soviet
influence containing its influence containment policy through wars,
covert operations, support for undemocratic but anti-communist
governments in Latin America and Middle East
- 1949 Russia get nuclear weapons and nuclear threat when moved missiles to
Cuba after Castro establishment in 1960s
- Cold War requires full-time militarization, about 50% of national resources to
military thats a war btw economies
- Difference btw economies:
Productionism: pattern used by USSR to develop economy that was a
state-planned one. The more produced, the better. But very little
investments in consumer goods. Enhanced scientific studies and new
technologies in fact in 1957 Sputnik launched into the space
Kennedy pledged in 1960 that soon man on moon(1969 first man on
the Moon)
Consumerism: model used by USA because it was decided that world
couldnt go again into an oversupply problem. Need to lower tariffs, to
increase global demand and changes in the domestic economy.
New sectors were created to provide consumer goods: 1940s car to
every American family, create new demand through planned
obsolescence (style change) and advertising, easier credit,
construction of suburbs, houses, highways, electricity arrives to
houses and also countryside and that stimulate products like

refrigerators, tv, telephone mass consumption was created in USA

btw 1930s and 1950s and represents the most part of the economy
the post-war economy growth thanks to the consumer revolution
Energy problem: the consumer society needs cheap and available
energy and in XX century its oil and natural gas.
As for coal in XIX century, the distribution of oil deposits is accidental
and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are the top for quantity hold.
1970s USA starts to import from Middle East social, economic,
political, environmental, military consequences of oil control
1973 AOPEC decides for embargo on USA imports of oil in order to
raise the price oil shocks 1971 Nixon get dollar off the Gold
Standard in order to be able to buy petrol economic stagnation +
inflation beginning of crises period Soviet Union weakened too
much too keep up with American military expenditure agreement
for arms reduction (glasnost and perestroika) btw Reagan and
Gorbachev 1989 end of USSR increase in nation-states and
Russia inherits more than others Yeltsin leader of Russian Federation
1991 END OF COLD WAR and also China opens to market
capitalism, to foreign investments, consumer goods, exports and buy
American companies like IBM
1950s consumer society also in Canada and UK
1960s other EU countries
Third World Developmentalism: 1950s arises the idea of third world,
the former colonies, poor countries that are trying to develop their
economies and industrialize now. They are in different continents but
they share similar problems:
1) Economies had been controlled so they were left rural and
suppliers of raw materials
2) They have limited urbanization
3) They are facing a dramatic explosion of population because less
mortality thanks to new drugs and institutions like WHO

1960s third world farmers starts to use synthetic fertilizer and some
innovations, we call it Green Revolution but couldnt support the growing
population they need industrialization but only a strong state could
push toward it (ex. Japan, Germany, USSR, 4 Asian tigers Singapore,
Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea)

The gap keep growing despite globalization > globalization doesnt

necessarily bring convergence see Africa (debts, military regimes,
civil wars, different ethnic groups, no investments nor from foreigners
nor from Africans + high tariffs in rich countries for agricultural
How do it end?
USA is powerful but cannot control its economic fate because of global
markets that exist today, no one can. We live in a highly integrated
economic environment.