The series of lectures we had this week emphasized the degree to which the pattern of industrialization and globalization played out in similar ways across the world. Jaffa, the Rhineland, and Bombay all grew semi-organically out of their location – in the case of Bombay and the Rhineland, the needs of empire and local industrial capabilities, and in the case of Jaffa, transportation convenience. One can also arguably see how the global economy is developing into a market in which shifts in supply and demand can change individual communities substantially – and in which imperialism is used to further the economic goals of empires by trying to control the market.
For instance, the cotton market in Bombay is created by the absence of American coffee from the market due to the American Civil War, and made possible by the construction of the Suez Canal. Jaffa becomes a transportation hub because of its proximity of the Holy Land and Zionism, and because of the orange trade. The Rhineland was near both coal and iron in a time in which the German Empire needed industry (especially war industry). By these conditions, the lives of the people who lived in these locations had the circumstances of their lives utterly and completely changed in a relatively short period of time.
This change was not completely positive in any of the examples. The upper class in the new world market economy drives exploitation that harms the workers in every example. In Jaffa, title transfers lead to rural workers losing control of their property and essentially becoming serfs. In conquered India, in addition to lacking sovereignty, a similar process makes many rural laborers serfs or moves them to the cities. And finally, though they are European laborers in a safe and prosperous country, German Rhenish workers are subjected to awful conditions in the mines. T
Though the geography of the places we have discussed is different, their similarities betray the themes of the age of the turn of the century.