May 28, 2021Liked by Charles McKelvey

Excellent analysis, as always, Charles. Your posts really brighten up my Tuesday and Friday afternoons!

I don't remember if Wallerstein includes this in his analysis, but I would also add that this 2nd phase of European conquest and expansion of the World System in the 19th Century was greatly facilitated by new technologies: the ironclad steamship, railroad, breechloading rifles, and (perhaps most significantly) quinine to fight malaria. Up until then, malaria had prevented European settlement in much of Africa and Asia (the mortality rates for white settlers were catastrophic), while breechloading guns and ironclad steamboats allowed the Europeans to defeat the Asian empires (which were more militarily advanced than the societies of the Caribbean and Latin America - which also were more vulnerable to European diseases), and railroads and advances in communication allowed them to tie all these huge conquered territories together. The impetus for conquest was probably there earlier but the would-be conquistadors from the core simply did not have the tools to expand the WS further until these technological developments came of age.

Daniel Headrick writes about this in his seminal book, "Tools of Empire" , which I remember reading way back when I was an undergrad - a great book and it really left an impression on me.

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Thank you very much for your commentary, Andrej. Most interesting: the constraints on the European global conquest due to malaria in Africa and Asia and with respect to the capacities of the Asian empires to militarily resist prior to particular European inventions in military technology. It makes sense, of course, that would-be conquistadores need the tools of conquest that are relevant to each particular situation. I merely would want to stress the ongoing dialectical relation between domination and development, in order words, between conquest and technological development, including the relevant military technologies. Conquest fuels development, which increases the capacity for conquest, and so on.

Thank you for your ongoing commentaries. They are a great contribution to the column.


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