January 23rd, 2017

The shifting global landscape

Economics & Politics

In “The Wealth of Nations,” published in 1776, Adam Smith described the early events of globalization that commenced with Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the sea route from Europe to the Americas in 1492, and Vasco da Gama’s voyage from Europe to India in 1498. “The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind,” wrote Smith. History has vindicated Smith’s judgment. It is our generation’s fate to usher in another fundamental chapter of globalization, one which requires a rethinking of foreign policy by the United States and other world powers.

Smith noted that globalization should raise global well-being, “by uniting, in some measure, the most distant parts of the world, by enabling them to relieve one another’s wants, to increase one another’s enjoyments, and to encourage one another’s industry.” He also noted that in the first wave of globalization following the voyages of Columbus and da Gama, the native populations of the Americas and Asia suffered because Europe’s “superiority of force” enabled the Europeans to “commit with impunity every sort of injustice,” including enslavement and political domination.

Read the full article at the Boston Globe.

 

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