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The rise of the west is a topic that is heavily debatable. Some people believe in a Eurocentrism. This belief is not simply that it views history from a European point of view, but that it is one of many ethnocentric views of the world. Eurocentrism also emphasizes the superiority of Western culture. It makes Europe out to be the shaper of the rest of the world. Others such as Robert Marks believe the way that I do. It is that certain circumstances lead to the progression of a society, not that their culture is superior to the others. If certain things are needed and resources are available an answer to a problem can be made. Some cultures just reach the problem faster, have resources to solve it, and that leads to them advancing ahead of everyone else technologically.

Before Europe had reached its level of power there was no true center of control. Back in the fourteenth century, the Old World was connected by eight interlinking trade zones within three great subsystems. The East Asia subsystem linked China and the Spice Islands in Southeast Asia to India. Then there was the Middle East-Mongolian subsystem that linked the Eurasian continent from the Eastern Mediterranean to Central Asia and India. There was also the European subsystem that linked Europe to the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.

The remarkable thing about the trade system is that it worked without a central controlling or dominating force. Force was not used to keep goods flowing throughout the system, this is because all involved could see the importance of trade. Rulers in various parts of the trade system offered protection to traders, caravans, or ships. So the world in the fourteen century was polycentric. There were several regional systems, each with its own densely populated and wealthy core, surrounded by a margin that provided agricultural and industrial raw material to the core, and most of which were loosely connected to one another through trade networks. The world remained quite polycentric until around the eighteen hundreds, when Europeans put into place the elements to colonize most of the globe, in the process creating a global system with a highly developed core.

China in the early fourteen hundreds wanted to prove that it was the wealthiest, most powerful civilization in the world. They constructed a fleet of ships ranging from trade ships to battleships. This fleet was sent into the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas to trade with the local rulers. By fourteen thirty-five, it appeared that a powerful Chinese presence in the waters of the Indian Ocean was secure, placing much of the ocean-going trade in the world under Chinese eyes, if no control. Surprisingly Chinese seaborne power declined so rapidly and completely that by fifteen hundred there were no Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean or in the waters off China’s shores. China thought that the Mongols to the north should be what they should be thinking about.

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The wealth of Asia was then traded for raw materials from the less-developed parts of the world. For four centuries, the commercial and industrial prowess of China and India, both made possible by productive agricultures, enabled Asians to dominate the world economy and to attract both attention and resources of those elsewhere in the world who wished to gain access to the riches of Asia. Asia remonetized its economy using silver. The place of silver in Asian economics thus set into motion several other world-changing processes.

The discovery of huge deposits of silver in the New World brought great wealth to Spain. This silver however would lead to the dominance of Europe. Spain’s rulers attempted to bring all of Europe under their dominion. Although France stood in the way of this plan. Even with the silver flowing into Spain the wars were to costly and the Spanish crown declared bankruptcy. This brought about the development of the competive system of sovereign nation-states. The fighting back and forth of these states led to technological advancements in warfare, because the states had to keep up with war technology so they were not conquered.

The silver flowed out of Spain and into the hands of the Dutch arms merchants and English and Italian financiers, who then used there new found wealth to finance trade missions to China and the Indian Ocean. The Spanish lacked direct access to Asia. Until they seized Manila in the Philippines, established a colony there, and sent ships loaded with silver from Acapulco to Manila.

Three-quarters of the New World silver wound up in China. The reason is that China had a huge demand for silver, both to serve as the basis of its monetary system and to facilitate economic growth. Because China valued silver, it was expensive there and very cheap in the Americas. Silver thus flowed for the New World, both through Europe and across the Pacific to the Philippines, all to China. In essence the silver went around the world and made the world go round.

The New World economy was fueled by the establishment and growth of the plantation system using imported African slaves for labor. The use of slavery brought about trade triangles in the Atlantic. The first linked England to Africa and the New World. Commodities, such as sugar, from the Americas went to England. Then finished goods were taken to Africa where they were exchanged for slaves and the slaves were taken to the Americas. The second triangle went in the other direction. England’s North American colonies sent rum to Africa in exchange for slaves. The slaves were taken to the Caribbean and then molasses went to New England to produce more rum. In all these transactions, Europeans and North American colonists made money and accumulated wealth. This economy benefited the Europeans and allowed them to compete more effectively in the world economy.

Much of England was deforested to meet the needs of the growing city of London for fuel for heating and cooking. The pressure that was applied on the land resources lead to a new source of fuel. Veins of coal were close enough to London to create a demand for coal and the beginnings of a coal industry. Surface deposits were depleted and they had to go down deeper. As they went down thought they encountered ground water seeping into and flooding the mine shafts. To remedy this problem a steam driven piston to pull the water out. This lead to steam engines being developed for other purposes.

The textile industry vastly increased their output by using steam engine. This resulted in a hundredfold increase in thread output over a worker on a manual spinning wheel. With this increase mechanization of looms, which increased cloth production. Without coal and steam the British cotton textiles alone could not have transformed the economy. To feed these textile mills Britain was importing hundred of thousands of pounds of raw cotton from the New World. The industrialization to the textile industry made it possible for the British to sell their product cheaper than India and China could. They kind of under bid them in price because they could make the products faster and cheaper.

The tipping of the scales against China would not have been possible had Britain not began to industrialize and to apply the fruits of industry to its military. Industrialization was contingent upon Britain having a particular type of periphery in the New World. Britain also had good fortune to be sitting on coal deposits after it had deforested most of the island to heat London.

The resulting transformations changed the dynamics of economics. This resulted in a boom and bust of the business cycle, growing competition among European states for colonies, which would give their economies guaranteed markets and sources of raw materials. All of the factors that lead to the dominate west are because of time and place. If not for certain events taking place the world would be different today.

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