I see that you are familiar with the Scramble for Africa! Good, good. Now tell me, are you familiar with the Age of Discovery? The phrase "empire on which the sun never sets" is most famously associated with the British during the post-Industrial Revolution colonization of much of the globe, but it was originally used to refer to the Spanish Empire, which became vast and wealthy off of colonization of the Americas. The Portuguese also made a large empire for themselves in this time. Brazil was a crown jewel in their empire, iirc.
Originally Posted by Solo
The impetus to "explore" was driven by the economic theory of mercantilism, which held that countries should accumulate monetary reserves (gold), and seek to balance exports and imports. Basically, get lots of material wealth and keep as much of it in the country as possible. It was highly inefficient and incentized unethical behavior, which is why Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, actually.
This all happened before the Industrial Revolution. I will happily and confidently assert that part of the reason why European powers were rich and wealthy was not because they had earned it through fair trade, but through scurrilous means.
And they weren't anymore powerful or wealthy than their rivals in the Ottoman Empire or China (the Ottoman Empire who conquered half of eastern europe and enslaved and castrated european boys into the Jannisaries and bought white christian women as sex slaves). Other countries did these things too, but they weren't anywhere near as good at it (well, the Ottomans helped the arab slave trade enslave millions in Africa, which, with help from the Spanish, eventually lead to the Trans-atlantic slave trade, but that's for another topic).
Again, read Guns, Germs and Steel. take what I mentioned about it above, and combine it with the 'germs' part. Diseases killed most of the native americans in north america, and disease ravaged the South american empires (who themselves were built around human sacrifice and warfare, but they're non-europeans so we can turn a blind eye to that) which made them easy pickings for the Spanish (who then went on to completely screw themselves over by mining a mountain of silver, which led to run away inflation and which crippled their empire).
And I have never asserted that European dominance was based 100% on being nice, trade and handing out flowers. They went to war and fought others just like every other nation, but the reason they could succeed and punch so far above their weight was because of the economic and production might of the Industrial Revolution. Combine this with the ability to out-produce India and China in anything from textiles to steel giving European nations huge economic power, and the rest is history.
I note you're not actually defending your original assertion that "Europe developed machines for production and traded from Africa, to South America, to India, China, Japan - all four corners of the globe. That's what made Europe so massively wealthy". May I take this as a tacit concession that my criticism of the British Empire's gunboat diplomacy is correct?
Nope, because they did. Europe traded across the world just like everyone else. I mentioned South Africa, a trading colony established by the dutch for their merchants between the netherlands and india/china. Everyone
traded across the world, that's how you made money. Then when the IR came along, they could trade a boat load more and do so for really cheap.
I'm surprised that I provoked such a strong response with my reminder that the foundation of European power was blood and suffering. Still, I must be fair. Yes, the achievements of the Europeans were great. This cannot be denied. Even He Who Must Not Be Named did great things – terrible, yes, but great. In the future, shall I correct the record on Hitler, Mao, and Stalin as well? After all, we must give the devil his due instead of painting them as bloodthirsty tyrants, as is so popular these days.
I mean, say what you will about Pol Pot, the fellow had a terrific work ethic.
And that's the crux right there.
"Foundation of European power was blood and suffering."
"You know that every other peoples have tried doing the same thing, right?"
"Then why did the Europeans succeed where the others failed?"
"Because of gunboat diplomacy and conquest and at the barrel of a gun."
"Every other empire tried that, from the Ottomans, to the Timurids, to the Mongols, to the various Chinese Dynasties. Only the Mongols came anywhere close close and they exterminated 10% of the human race to do it. So why did the Europeans succeed so massively, where everyone else failed?"
"Because they had the industrial revolution that allowed them to produce heaps of stuff really quickly and for cheap, giving them the technological superiority over all their rivals that allowed them to dominate via economics and warfare."
"The foundation of European power was built on blood and suffering."
You haven't struck upon a nerve as much as you have regurgitated the tired old mantra of beating on Europeans for somehow being the sole bad guy in history and who are sitting atop wealth and expertise that they haven't earned in any way and who should hold little value in their history except seeing it as a track-record of awful misery and white guilt. I mean, this was supposed to be a thread about multiculturalism, but within the first post it got changed to about how Europeans are the bad guys of history and deserve nothing of what they have now.
This speaks more to me about your perception of things, as I have yet to encounter a single thing that you and I agree upon in our 1+ years of discussing a myriad of topics. You've mentioned before that you only think fairness will come about when workers control the means of production, anything else is exploitation. So naturally that's the lens through which you view history. Whereas I apply the lens of human competition, and can see that throughout history various peoples have risen to dominance and power only to eventually fall and be replaced, but the Europeans succeeded beyond anything seen before because they had the critical advantage of the Industrial Revolution.