In most areas of the world, countries have industrialised. Most have economies based around one or more key industries. The rates of industrializations throughout history have differed, however. In this essay, I will explore how industrialization has differed and why it’s differed so much.
Pre-industrial history kept levels of industrialization at roughly the same level across the world. The majority of people earned enough for sustenance and no more. They produced most of their own goods. In countries like Ancient Greece, slaves were used to start trading in handmade goods. This allowed wealthy Greeks to push themselves slightly above the sustenance level.
Industrialization originated in the northwest and Midlands areas of England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It introduced many automated processes and machine power. These technological advancements revolutionised most industries, including textiles, chemical production, and iron manufacturing. It quickly spread across the major economies of Europe and to the United States.
This is where nations like Great Britain, France, Prussia, Spain, and the United States began to industrialize at a faster rate than Asian and African nations. Supported by slaves and vast global empires, these nations were able to increase output and accelerate trade. The income and profits from these ventures enabled more investments and further technological advancements.
The result of this was the Second Industrial Revolution towards the end of the 19th century. It further increased the strength of the Western economies.
Isolationist nations, such as Japan, came under increasing pressure to industrialise. In the case of Japan, Tokugawa’s government was forced to abolish the feudal system and industrialise to compete with the encroaching Western empires throughout the region. In this case, they did this through the growth of vast armies.
The Japanese had no choice but to industrialise not because they wanted profit but because of threats from the imperialistic ambitions of the West. Due to existing technology, it took only a few decades for Japan to reach a Western level of industrialisation.
As a result of colonisation, countries in Africa didn’t industrialize until well into the Cold War and the late 20th century. In many scenarios, areas of sub-Saharan Africa still haven’t industrialized. A lack of investment from the West after they released their economies has physically stopped them from doing so..
Countries in the Middle East required a certain level of technology from the West before they could take advantage of their natural oil resources. This didn’t happen until the Second World War and afterwards. Again, this was fuelled by Western intervention. Despite the enormous wealth of oil-rich nations, their industrialization is based almost entirely on a single natural resource. This has discouraged investment in other sectors, which has always left them lagging behind.
Overall, rates of industrialization globally have largely relied on a need. Only countries with an actual need have managed to industrialize. Whether this need is over greed or for defence, nations have been forced to compete industrially on a global scale. Due to political problems or a lack of technology, some areas of the world have been prevented from achieving industrial advancement, and that continues to this day.