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The Role of Trade & Economics in the Development of Global Civilizations
Throughout history, economic development and trade have played an important role in the development of civilizations across the globe. Economic development coupled with the need to trade has been instrumental in the formation of good relations amongst countries and cultures. This close contact has in fact led to the belief that these separate geographical settlements soon became extensions of a vast global civilization.
The Ancient world is filled with these examples. “Egypt’s Old Kingdom (c.2686-2181 BCE) flourished on the flood enriched banks of the Nile. It was an era of prosperity, relative stability…” During this period, “Egypt became a major player in the Middle East” and maintained the integrity of its borders by maintaining close contact with regional countries to procure supply of wood, in which it was deficient. Similarly, Mesopotamia, prosperous in agricultural products but “poor in natural resources such as metal and stone” was forced to forge diplomatic and trade relations with regional countries. (Davis 54-57)
Later on, following the spread of Islam, the annual Hajj pilgrimage allowed for different cultures to come together. Many of the pilgrims that came to Mecca also traded with their local counterparts who repaid trips to these clients and their countries after the Hajj Season. During the time of Chengis Khan, the silk route reopened and allowed for the exchange of goods such as spices and tea from China to Europe that is said to have led to the British fascination with tea, an important cultural impact. The need to trade also led to colonization and the use of force to attain trading rights. The British East India Company was responsible for opening India to the world and later colonizing it. The Spanish and Portuguese explorations to the America’s were also a bid to secure a regular supply of spices and other important goods. (Davis 192, 194, 272, 276)
Even in present times, the role of trade and economic development has been instrumental towards globalization. Until 1976, China was shut up to the world. Realizing its economic potential, it buried old differences with the West and today is probably its greatest trading partner. Today, the Chinese who was content on a bicycle happens to be the greatest market for car makers across the globe. Europe after world war two is another example which put behind centuries of old conflict between itself and today is a major economic bloc in the shape of the European Union. The wonders of commerce are more evident in places like the Muslim world. In Dubai, commerce has led to greater cultural fraternity with local Arabs clanned in T shirts that represent Hip Hop artists from Harlem and soccer stars from the major European soccer leagues. On the other hand, female foreigners dressed in the traditional South Asian attire of Kurta Shalwar is a sight in many bazaars in South Asia. All this amounts to greater cultural fraternity and greater acceptance of each other by nations and cultures of each other. (Tomlinson 75)
Based on the knowledge and understanding of the past, the world is set to get more integrated economically, politically and culturally. Integration does not imply a unified code of dress, thought or belief. Rather, it implies greater acceptance of one another, with the prime driver behind this global civilization being the role of international commerce. Already, we see this happening in any parts of the world with almost all countries ceasing to be closed societies. American business executives working in Japan are seen adhering to Japanese business practices of treating the workplace as a family while the Japanese are also starting to accept the American notion of rugged individualism. (Tomlinson 82)
To conclude, commerce would lead to continued cultural exchange but not to the cessation of different cultures. We would be different in how we dress, in the languages we speak and in our tastes but it is implied that we will collectively share one mindset.
Hart – Davis, Adam. History, The Definative Visual Guide. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2007.
Tomlinson, John. Globalization and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999
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