Response to 1900’s Modernization Efforts

It seems the biggest fault that historians of this time period run into is assuming that there is one unifying effort of modernization across the globe. Almost as if there was a tide wave reminiscent of the 2012 disaster movie that swept over the world but instead of Maya calendar nonsense its guns, cotton, and the creation of huge gaps in wealth distribution. The reality here is that modernization happens on a mostly case by caseĀ  basis there just happen to be some common themes involved. For this its easy to look a where many theories come from and then how some places play out in terms of modernization.

Overall there’s two major theories of modernization. There the westernization equal modernization and the Geyer and Bright model of modernization is a result of exploited states adapting to survive. For starters an example of westernization based modernization can be seen in Japan as described in Fukuzawa Yukichi’s article where he states that in order for japan to survive in the now approaching modern era they would need to, ” adopted the modern Western civilization for everything within our borders.” Effects of this can be seen in Japan today where they now lead the world in many fields of technology and have become one of the most modernized nations in the east. A nation following the exploitation model can be seen in that of Brazil where wealthy nations exploited the land and its people for cheap products of coffee and rubber to be used elsewhere. Brazil’s entire economy was based on exporting their goods and the near slave labor that brought many from Europe over and kept them there. Brazil’s modernization occurred in the cities where the wealth plantation owners built a small part of Europe in the heart of South America and then left it in search of cheaper products in Africa.

The outcomes here are completely different. The exploited nation never learned to improve, only to survive while the adopting nation prospered and is now a technological zenith in the East. This could call into question the morality of modernization at the hands of exploitation but its far to late for this moral issue to actually solve anything. Africa is a mess and Brazil and the rest of South America unfortunately aren’t too far behind. The effectiveness of Modernization seems to be directly correlated to how it is done.

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