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Video transcript

- [Sal] This is a map of European colonial possessions in the early to mid 1700s. And you immediately see a few things. Spain has a lot of territory in Central and South America. Even the small country of Portugal, because of its prowess during the Age of Exploration, a significant amount of territory in what would become Brazil, but they also have possessions and colonies along the coast of Africa and even things in India, like Goa. You have the British, having possessions in North America, things that would eventually evolve into the United States and Canada. At this point in time, France also has significant possessions, which will later be taken by Britain and then an independent U.S. as it grows across continental North America. But the thing to notice in this map is despite these significant possessions, much of the world is not controlled by the Europeans. Yes, England also is starting to have a bit of a colonial possession, although at this point it's a corporate possession in eastern India, in Bengal, but much of Africa and Asia is not under European control. But then as we enter into the second half of the 18th century, and especially the 19th century, something important happens in the scope of human history, and that's the Industrial Revolution or maybe you could say the Industrial Revolutions. Now, there's many technologies that are central to the Industrial Revolution, but probably most important is the steam engine, although you could contend maybe it's the steam engine, maybe it's electrification, maybe it is the telegraph. But the steam engine all of a sudden allows us to harness the power of really coal to create steam to turn engines. And then these engines could be used to power factories so that you could amplify what human labor could do before. This factory right over here, it looks like they're creating fabric from some kind of thread or they might be sewing of some kind. And a human equipped with a power loom or with a sewing machine could produce much, much more than they could've ever produced before by hand. The steam engine and things like electricity also create a revolution in transportation, the transportation of goods and people, but also the movement of information. This right over here is a picture of a steamship, which you could use for trade, but you could also use it to project military power. This here is a railroad. Similarly, transport goods and people but it also allows you to keep control over a larger swath of territory. And this is a telegraph. And then a telegraph, all of a sudden, for the first time in history, you can communicate across the globe in a mere instant. And what used to take months to figure out what was going on could now happen in seconds. So, once again, this is valuable for trade, but it's also valuable for coordinating military power. So in large part to these revolutions that we're seeing, and we will study more in other videos, the map of the world looks very different roughly 150 years later. This is what the world looks like around the year 1900 and you immediately notice some differences from that previous map. Most of those colonial possessions in North and South America are now independent but you notice something dramatic happening in Africa and in much of Asia. Africa has now been carved up by the colonial powers. In this salmon color, you see where the British have control in much of South Africa and then around Egypt and Sudan and parts of East Africa. You see the French have control of Algeria and much of Eastern Africa. What started off for the British as a corporate possession in Eastern India has now grown to become a possession of the Crown. You have India, part of the British Empire. Even Japan, which is one of the first Asian countries to industrialize, is in on imperialism. It has control in Korea and in Taiwan. So why this kind of imperialism? There's always the standard motivations for imperialism that we've seen throughout world history. If you have conquest, that leads to more land plus people under your rule. And if you have more land, which is for the most part used for agriculture, well, you're going to have more taxes and wealth. So, taxes. And if you have more people, they will have output so you can tax that, but they can also be used, they could be taxed, so to speak, for war. They could produce more soldiers and so the more revenue and soldiers you have, well, that could help you just accrue more and more power. And so this is the classic loop that you see why most empires tried to expand and sometimes when they stopped expanding, you see that they started to decline. But now in this video, from the early 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, we have new things at play. We have the technological innovation from the Industrial Revolution, things like electricity and steam power. You see the notion of capitalism come into its prime, this focus on where do you maximize your returns for a given amount of capital that you have? And land is a form of capital, but as we will see or as we saw in some of those pictures, as technology becomes more and more valuable, things other than land become very important forms of capital, like factories, like railroads, like ships. And related to these two ideas, you have industrialization, which is the use of technology to become more productive, to increase output. And they all feed off of each other. A capitalist says, how do I get better return on my capital? Well, I should industrialize. I should make my factories more efficient. Well, to make my factories more efficient, I have to also invest in technology to get that industrialization. The more I industrialize, the better my profits, and so the more I am going to be able to invest in this cycle. As I'm trying to industrialize, I have all sorts of problems that I'm trying to solve, so it's going to drive the need to improve my technology. And those who develop the technology, well, they're going to have more capital to invest. So, once again, it's creating this cycle which is going to feed the fuel of imperialism. Think about it. In the Industrial Revolution, the owners of capital started to have more and more power. If you think about a factory... So that's my factory right over there. It takes raw materials... Raw materials. If you think about it, it's a clothing factory. It might take raw cotton or turn it into thread or it might take that cotton thread and then turn it into some type of fabric and then you have finished goods, maybe this is clothing. So even before the Industrial Revolution, people would take raw materials, do something to it, and then you would have finished goods. But now, this center portion is being supercharged by technology, by industrialization. It is really becoming the central focus and it's becoming more productive. So as it becomes more productive, there's a hunger for more raw materials. Where do you get those raw materials from? Well, if you're a small country like the United Kingdom or Japan, your raw materials are limited. But, there's the rest of the world and especially the rest of the world that is not at the same level of technological sophistication yet, so you can, perhaps, use your military in order to force them to trade with you. Similarly, what do you do with all of those finished goods? You have limited markets on your island, but what if you could sell to the hundreds of millions of people who aren't directly in your country? This desire for more raw materials and more and cheaper raw materials and this desire to sell your goods, the outputs of industrialization, this, to a significant degree, drove this imperialism, this colonization, and in general, a motivation for freer trade in general. When the free trade didn't happen freely, sometimes it was forced on the country that was being traded with. And as alluded to already, the technology which helped fuel this Industrial Revolution also made it easier to control a far-flung empire. Before the Industrial Revolution, a country like the United Kingdom being able to control this far-flung empire, this would've been impossible for the Romans or the Persians to do using their technology. But now you have the steamship, you have railroads, you have the telegraph, which are parts of this Industrial Revolution but they also allow you to project power and project power much quicker and much more efficiently than ever possible. So once again, technology, industrialization, and capitalism, these were the fuel of the Industrial Revolution. They provided the motivation for colonization, for imperialism, and freer trade in general. But then, that was able to be enforced because of that same technology. You could project your power through those steamships, railroads, and the telegraph.