History Repeats Itself History repeats itself. This concept applies not only within the realm of a singular nation’s history but throughout and between nations.
That is to say, that what one nation endures, throughout its economic and political history, may be compared to and be strikingly similar to that of many other nations. As we analyze social change thought the world we have noticed a cyclical pattern of histories, both economic and political, in the countries of Spain, Holland, Britain, and the United States. I.Historical Periodization: Throughout history and during alternating time periods, countries have grown from feeble entities, defeated by or ruled by the governing structures of foreign nations, to powerful nations. Between the fifteenth and the sixteenth century, SPAIN ruled as a great power among other nations. Its empire began when, in 1492, Spain financed Columbus’s expeditions and explorations to conquer territory in the New World.
Once it held its new established territory, Spain relied on the influx of gold and silver from the New World. Spain was the first country to start an empire and consequently started a trend. Once HOLLAND gained their independence from Spanish rule, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, it moved on to become a great power. Holland had relied on seafaring and the economic success of Amsterdam until around 1620. “By mid-century, however, they had used their technical sophistication and control of vital raw commodities to build successful industries . .
. and supported by Holland’s bourgeois virtues, trading preeminence and credit, Dutch manufactures soon dominated a number of European markets” (BP 198). Holland remained in power until its decline began in the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1750, the Dutch started losing European markets but continued as the number one market country in Europe. The British moved in where the Dutch had been. GREAT BRITAIN reached great heights in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Starting out as the home of the Industrial Revolution, Britain was considered the workshop of the world. However, by the 1890’s Britain was losing ground in the global market of manufacturing, specifically to the United States and Germany. The UNITED STATES, is the youngest of the nations studied in this essay, which became a major power at the end of World War I, and since then has experienced both increases and declines in power. Since the 1920’s until present day The United States has moved from an agricultural society to an industrial society as many moved from the rural areas into the urban areas and the cities. II.Geographic Scope: When it was an empire, SPAIN had control over many countries, including South America, Mexico, Latin America, and the Philippines. Not only did Spain conquer new land during its zenith, but it combined much of Europe under one rule as the Hapsburg Empire when it united the crowns of Castile, Leon, and Aragon.
“Besides opening much of America, sixteenth-century Spain was also ruling a Hapsburg empire that extended beyond the Iberian Peninsula to Flanders, Germany, Austria and Italy,” during its rapid internationalization (BP 216). After the union of the Spanish crowns and the rise of the Hapsburg Empire, Madrid experienced a major increase in its population, as what often occurs when a new world political capital comes into existence. “The new imperial capital mushroomed from a population of 4,000 in 1530 to 35,000 in 1594 and at least 100,000 in the mid-1600’s before fading again when the great days were over” (AC 31). While the Dutch was in war with Spain it accepted various kinds of people,such as the Jews and the Huguenots, and eventually acquired a vast empire. Although HOLLANDS realm was comparably smaller to that of Spains, its domain included the United Provinces, New York, New Amsterdam, and the East Indies. “The purest governmental culture was in the Hague, which, after quadrupling its population, was the only major Dutch city to continue growing during the nation’s decline in the mid- and late-eighteenth century” (AC 64).
The empire of GREAT BRITAIN is unparalleled by any other in that it encompassed one fourth of the world. Its numerous English-speaking colonies, which come from around the world, include Canada, British Australia, India, and New Zealand. The Realm of the UNITED STATES is vast and was acquired when the land on the continent was taken from the Native Americans and redistributed. III.Impact of The Political Order on The Economic Order: IV.
A political order is composed of those institutions within which people gain, wield and influence distributions of power and an economic order is composed of those institutions within which people organize land, labor, and capital for the production and distribution of goods and services (Flint). “In nations, the political and economic aging processes are not the same and do not go at the same pace. Great economic powers have often grown in waves–early emphasis on agriculture, shipbuilding, fishing, or mining, then a move to manufacturing, then a shift from manufacturing to financial services” (AC 21-22). “A significant part of what overtook each of these nations was the emergence of finance, debt and an investor or rentier class within their respective societies,as the boureois emphasis on manufacturing and trade diminished” (BP 203). Manufacturing potential was undercut when an influx of Gold and Silver from the New World bombarded SPAIN in the sixteenth century.
As its wealth steadily increased, Spain relied on other countries to produce the goods it needed and caused it to lose sight of hard work. Spain went from being supportive to parasitic as “reformers in early seventeenth–century Madrid put the ratio of parasites to actual productive workers as high as 30:1” (AC 39). In the end, “narrow monetary wealth, irresponsible finance and an indolent rentier class were important in the decline that was taking hold in Spain one hundred to one hundred fifty years after Columbus’s voyages” (BP 205). Due to its thrify methods HOLLAND quickly emerged as a center of world commerce.
Engineering, manufacturing, and fishing industries gave way to ever increasing export markets and financial institutions that dominated the European market. However, this disrupted the economic and social polarization. Foreign investments, such as the East India Company, took capitol away from Holland and did little to ameliorate its unemployment problems. Hollands financialization, like that of Great Britain, caused it to go from supportive to parasitic, as well. As a result of its Industrial Revolution, GREAT BRITAIN dominated the steel and textile industries and its merchant marines was the largest in the world.
As it accomplished its world wide trade and manufacturing climax it witnessed the appearance of a considerable rentier class. Britain, too followed its predecessors and as its yearly foreign investments increased it turned to stocks and shares as opposed to an earned income. Most of its capitol was invested overseas in countries that competed with Britain. Britains financialization did not cause London to lose its place as the center of world commerce and in fact, “it was not transformed into a governmental parasite complex” (AC 64).
After World War II, “the annual figures nominally returned to prewar levels, but adjusted to inflation they were much lower- and Britain also staggered under the weight of $13 billion of new external liabilities” (BP 208). Between 1790 and 1990 The UNITED STATES transformed from an agricultural to an industrial to a financial society. Most recently, the United States has disregarded its manufacturing industries, eliminating many jobs, and relied upon financialization, which unfortunately, only benefits a small elite. Moreover, overseas investments cost the United States citizens their jobs and increases economic polarization. V.Optional: VI.Households and Social Stratification: All of the aforementioned countries had fell “from their middle-class zeniths when manufacturing, trade, nationalism and bourgeois spirit gave way to “financialization”– the cumulating influence of finance, government debt, unearned income, rentiers, overseas investments, domestic economic polarization and social stratification” (BP 193-194).
By the early 1600’s SPAINS economy had polarized when the gold from Mexico and Peru ran out. The middle class that existed in Spain was very small as the polarization resulted in basically a solely elitist and peasant society. With concern about the defeat of the Spanish Armada, a plague, and failed harvests, Spains economic reformers attempted to “rebuild manufacturing and the middle class while cutting government jobs and dispersing the parasites of the court” (AC 84). HOLLAND’S financialization brought about both economic and social polarization.
“As for the Dutch, their mid–eighteenth century ruling cliques were confronted by a movement called the Patriots, which attacked nepotism, corruption, and moral decay and called for a full return to old liberties and values” (AC 92). The middle class ordinary folk of both Spain and Holland were left with nothing from their country’s zenith. As financialization occurred in GREAT BRITAIN the gap between the middle class and the rich increased. The middle class in Britain deteriorated as the manufacturing declined and the wages decreased. During the 1890’s the average family’s purchasing power was entering a two-decade period of stagnation or decline while the financial sector boomed and the rich grew ever richer” (AC 82).
During World War I, manufacturing boomed again but once postwar reality set in British manufacturing began to decline again. In Great Britain polarization was reversed by redistribution of income, socialism, and welfarism. This benefited the middle and lower–middle class citizens but hurt the elite. In the UNITED STATES at the end of the “Roaring Twenties”, when the stock market crashed, the major financial institutions were left to fail and die out. When the bubble of the 1980’s burst, however, the United States government bailed out the companies and caused the country to go into economic decline, deficit, and ruin the budget. The “Roaring Twenties”, and the “Anxious 1980’s” are examples of rises and later declines of economic and political prosperity and power.
Decline in the United States is occurring on both an economic and social level. America has witnessed a rapid centralization at the seat of federal power and a capital more influenced by interest groups than by voters. “Imperial capitals don’t become notorious until they display wealth and develop serious, parasitic elites, not true of Washington until it came of age in the late 1960’s and 1970’s” (AC 29). “There is no point in mincing words. Aging great-power capitals often become parasitic cultures”(AC xix).