West garnering wealth and power by 1900

Essay by humanlifeformCollege, Undergraduate September 2009

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As of the 20th century, it was evident that most of the world was dominated by Western powers. There is much debate as to how it came to be. Historians such as Frank believe that the fall of the economies of the Asian empires was the reason behind the success of the Western powers. This idea can be opposed by Smith stating that China’s economic market was not at all inferior to that of the combination of all the European markets. Landes argues that European empires grew in power and dominance due to a change in the beliefs and culture which led to radical developments in science and technology marked by the Industrial Revolution particularly during the 18th and 19th century. This essay will support Landes argument and will highlight three main points as the basis to Europe’s success. First, it will elaborate on industrialization in Europe focusing on the Industrial Revolution.

It will also examine the impacts of the Industrial Revolution on the Western society and economy as a whole. Then, it would account for the alteration of the economic system of the West from mercantilism to capitalism where free-trade was encouraged. Finally, it will stress on how the colonization of smaller powers had significantly augmented the influence the West had over the Asian market.

The Industrial Revolution began during the late 18th century in Britain where there were great developments in the field of science and technology. It brought to many improvements almost every aspect of daily life and drastically improved the standard of living. Western societies realised the importance of scientific knowledge. The notion of magic and miracles were eradicated, societies began to reason and analyse problems and unexplained situations on a more technical and scientific basis. Landes describes this as the ‘autonomy of intellectual...