Events Between 1870-1945
Bentley first talked about cross-cultural interactions as a way to categorize the World’s history. He in addition wrote about the importance of understanding events from a global perspective, not just one country’s point of view. Because of these two fundamental elements to his argument, we can assess events differently than before hand, finding out ways to take a step back and look at actions as they affect multiple nations simultaneously. Of these international events from 1870-1945, the Age of Imperialism, World War I, and the Great Depression had worldwide impacts on economic and social issues.
Imperialism in the late 19th century became a competition among European countries to take control of as many areas in Africa before the others did. For the most part, France, England, and Germany competed for bragging rights to these countries. They thought at the time that the more colonies a country had the more prestigious and noble that country looked. European countries were in pursuit of demonstrating their power. Not only this, but imperialism helped build a strong economy in the mother country because they could invade their colony and strip them of their natural resources in order to produce goods with.
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Then, these countries could sell their goods back to their colonies or elsewhere in the world. The imperialistic movements also had a global impact because of the conflict that arose between nations. Tension was building in Europe over the control of colonies and African countries had to fight wars to make an attempt at retaining their freedom. Eventually, these wars would be a factor in the causes for World War I because Europeans were building conflict with one another in an effort to show off their strength and power in Africa. The assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand led to the beginning of the Great War.
Though that one event probably did not carry enough importance to cause a worldwide impact, there were several factors such as the imperial wars and the arms race that also were important in causing the war. The death of the archduke then was just a disguise or an excuse for these countries to go to war because tensions had been building amongst one another for years. Like the Great Depression, World War I affected Europe the most. Fighting in Africa did occur however and many of the imperial colonies were at stake during the war.
This made the Great War an impact on the world and not just America or Europe. A big result of the war was the collapse of the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Ottoman Empire. These Empires were broken up as a result of losing the war, which allowed individual nations to break off and form their own country, free of the rule of an empire. In addition to the new countries that were created, the Treaty of Versailles installed a League of Nations in order to prevent a future event like this from happening again.
This League involved an international committee of nations to work together to stop global conflicts like World War I to happen again. It was international ideas like this that had nations from around the world working together to stop potential threats, which causes a global impact. In an effort to stop another World War, Woodrow Wilson proposed fourteen points that he thought should be done after the war. He gave this speech so it would have a global impact of peace among all the countries involved in the war.
Wilson wanted “peace without victory” but was not welcomed by the rest of the Allies because of their strong desire for Germany to pay war reparations. In fact, many of the propositions Wilson put forward were not accepted, but the most accepted one however was the League of Nations, which was meant to secure peace. The Great Depression not only affected America, but the rest of the world as well. This global depression began in the United States in 1929 but would soon play an important role in why countries turned inward to economic independence and lead to the rise of communism.
The 1920’s had Americans living in great prosperity. Consumers ruled the marketplace, buying as much as they could afford, even spending tomorrow’s wages today. Companies were about to face the grim reality that they were producing more goods than they were able to sell. People simply did not have the money to buy all these products and everyone instead began to invest their money in the stock market. In October of 1929, the stock market collapsed in America which soon would lead to the “domino effect” in Europe.
Since America no longer had the money they once did, they couldn’t afford to continue making loans to Germany. At the treaty of Versailles, Germany was forced to pay war reparations, but their problem was that they clearly did not have the money to pay back all these countries for the damages caused in the war. America then gave loans to the Germans in order to pay both France and England. These two countries however were in debt to America for their financial support in the war, but in order to reimburse the Americans, they needed money from Germany first.
So there was a cycle of debt and the only factor keeping it going was America. When the Great Depression hit, America had no money to lend, and the cycle ended, causing economic turmoil in Europe. In reality, this should have come with no surprise to anyone because of how shaky the cycle was to begin with. America was basically giving loans to their debtors so they could pay back those former loans, which hardly makes any sense at all. As a result of the Great Depression and the broken cycle of debt, countries struggled to make any money.
America was the number one importer of goods in the world at the time, so France and England were left with no one to sell their products to in order to make money. Soon, no one honored their debt and Germany got away with only paying 1/8 of their war reparations. What goods countries once imported now became domestic goods because tariffs around the world reached an all-time high. There was hardly any international trade and production levels dropped significantly.
Of course when production dropped, jobs were lost. Germany had the highest unemployment rate at 44%. Because of the high unemployment rate, the diversity between rich and poor spread wider and wider as demand for communism emerged. Europe was hit the hardest in the Great Depression, but even third world countries saw an impact in their economies. Africa’s exports consisted mostly of agriculture, but suffered a decline in demand during the depression. Farmers that could grow palm oil or coffee had to grow more in rder to make up for some of the revenue they lost when the prices dropped. Rural farmers then experienced lower wages while having to deal with lower market prices. Mother countries like Germany and France also imposed new poll taxes on their colonies in Africa to make up for money they had lost. As a result of the Great Depression in America, countries across the world faced depressions of their own. From 1870-1945, Imperialism, World War I, and the Great Depression had a global impact economically and socially.
The effects of Imperialism caused a build of tension between nations as European countries tried to show off their power and prosper economically through the invasion of areas in Africa. In World War I, existing empires were disassembled and new nations emerged as a result. As a result, Woodrow Wilson came up with a new system for controlling threat by creating the League Nations. After World War I, countries turned their economies inward once the Great Depression came and the “domino effect” took its toll on countries around the world.