(9/5/2019) Industrialization and Its Drivers: All for One or One for All?

An important theme highlighted from Monday’s lecture the industrialization of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the early 19th century. Professor Holt mentioned that the emancipation of slavery during this time lead to a need for labor in the production of goods. In anticipation for cheap labor, migrants in large numbers fled to the city in hopes of finding new opportunities. This influx in the population leads to the industrialization of this major import hub, particularly famous for their coffee exports, a major economic contributor to the ever-growing city. Thus, with the end of the transatlantic slave trade treaty, the city paid in full for European immigrants to work these coffee farms. Prof Holtz mentions a correlation between the increase in population post this industrialization, and the increase in poverty associated with this factor. I find it interesting that Mexico’s period of industrialization follows these same trends, highlighted in this weeks reading, “The Export Boom as Modernity” (pgs. 84-87). In some form or other, politics, either dirty or clean, paved the way for a new life in these countries. One decision of power influenced heavily by money, swayed another power to ultimately change the trajectory of the country’s values and environment. I also find it interesting to note both the influence and power of money found within the confinements of de Janeiro and Mexico, decreased the margins ten-fold for “true democracy” – democracy held within its people. This unwavering dynamic, with the help from technological advancements, shows us that someone richer, and more powerful, outperforms the less fortunate and sooner or later the country undergoes drastic changes (i.e. import/exports of goods). This power dynamic shifting from an influence of money is also found at the center of the Battle of Adwa, between the Ethiopians and the Italians of the late 18th century to early 19th century. Yet again, we see the need for a European country, one with more power and wealth, to impede on the demographics and politics of another less powerful and poorer. In sum, I agree with the idea of industrialization being the main driving force for the drastic changes found within these cities, however in addition to this, I believe the influence of politics, which in turn is influenced by money, really gave the citizens no choice on whether or not the change was one they needed for good. The change happened all around them (Africa, Brazil, Mexico), and the citizens did not have any say in these matters.

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