Today, Europe is considered the largest trading block globally. Even though the region is relatively small in size, its reach is felt far beyond it geographic boundaries, which has enabled Europe to assert its dominance in the world. However, this was not always the case as the rise of the continent to its current status had occurred during the Industrial Revolution of the 17th-18th centuries. Before this period, the world economy was heavily dominated by India and China. Combined, these two nations controlled a half of the world's wealth. However, strategic decisions played a crucial role in enabling European nations to change the situation and not only take their position at the helm of the world but also assert their dominance over close to 80% of the world’s population. Europe’s domination of the world was contingent on it making strategic decisions that had allowed it to gain leadership positions in the world. The paper evaluates the reasons that have allowed Europe to rise and dominate the world, finding why this strategy has played in its favor and not in other regions’.
How European Powers Achieved World Dominance
Before the Industrial Revolution, European powers were in the same position as other nations in Asia. Both regions depended on the biological economy that was controlled by natural occurrences, which meant that both also faced the same challenges. The only difference between European nations and their Asian counterparts, such as India and China, was that the latter possessed vast amounts of land and massive populations. This enabled them to have a competitive edge over their European rivals (Marks, 2015). Additionally, with an ever-rising challenge of diminishing resources, Asian nations were forced to be more creative, which meant that the majority of innovations in the agricultural sector came from the region. When the Industrial Revolution came, the European powers began increasing the tempo of their development, which was necessitated by changing realities that had forced Europe to adapt to them in a bid to remain relevant.
Specialization was another factor that had played a role in enabling European powers to rise to the leadership positions in global trade and politics. According to Marks (2015), owing to specialization, many European nations managed to assert their dominance since these nation-states to be extremely good in manipulating or exploiting any resource and technology they had at their disposal. For instance, with increased vulnerabilities that resulted in the decrease of resources in the energy sector, the European powers led by Britain turned to coal in an attempt to restore their power supply. Coal was used by Chinese in the past, but political challenges had forced this country to abandon the use of this resource due to the relocation of their trading center to the regions that did not have it. However, in Europe, coal use only was gained traction, and it first became a preferred source of energy throughout the continent. The usage of coal also led to the invention of the steam engine, which was meant to aid in the transportation of this resource to areas that did not have it. Therefore, with a continuous supply of energy, Britain and other European powers could free people from the agricultural sector and direct them the emerging industrial economy.
The other reason that had allowed European powers to establish dominance at a rate that made it impossible for others to compete was the system of governance in these nations. Europe was divided into small nation states, and they were often engaged in conflicts. Although they were never encouraged, they led to tremendous inventions in the land warfare and naval technologies (Pollard, Rosenberg, Tignor, & Karras, 2015). As the countries tried to defeat each other, they created more sophisticated weapons that made them stronger in battles. These advanced warfare technologies became useful while dealing with the leading nations of other regions as they could not match European technology. This, in turn, allowed the powers of Europe to establish dominance in the areas where they needed to extract resources for their industries or control the trade in a manner that favored them. The situation was different in other parts of the world, where governments were more centralized as this limited their advance in warfare technology. Additionally, great nations like China continued to invest in the biological economy that had several challenges while completely ignoring their technological and industrial sectors (Pollard et al., 2015). This weakened the ability of China and its neighbors to continue developing. A protectionist policy was also encouraged in the region, which meant that the advances they had made in some industries were not shared widely for the improvement of society.
The European powers had also placed themselves in a position that allowed them to control global trade. The development of warfare technologies made these nations very powerful. Thus, they could enforce their will on other, weaker countries, which was followed by strategic decisions that ensured Europeans’ control of global trade. For instance, the British used their military might to take control of India’s textile industry that dominated the world market. Later, the British East India Company acquired exclusive rights to purchase and supply textile from almost all Indian farms (Marks, 2015). In the same country, the government took control of arable lands, and the harvested produce was transported to Britain even though the Indian population starved. To curtail trade between China and India, the British had forced the Chinese to impose trade barriers on India's opium. Such a move left the Chinese population at the mercy of their European trading partner as many people were already addicted to this drug. This trend was replicated in all other regions of the world where Europeans had strategic control or complete dominance through colonialism.
Lastly, the Europeans powers were able to dominate the world politically and economically, which other nations could not achieve, because of their culture. Europeans were driven by greed and the spirit of adventure, which enabled them to make decisions that other societies were not ready to make. Thus, many risky strategies led to significant benefits. Common culture was also uniting factor of some European leaders who had spent vast amounts of resources on expeditions and exploration. Consequently, they were able to discover underutilized resources, for the exploitation of which they used their expertise (Marks, 2015). Capitalism also played a part in ensuring that society continued to grow because the system allowed it to use acquired resources to establish and finance nation-states so that the entire world envied them.
Additionally, the Europeans were able to pass knowledge due to the ease of their alphabet and education system that allowed people to document and share information very quickly. At the same time, those regions that could have rivaled Europe in their rise to dominance during the Industrial Revolution adopted a completely different strategy that presupposed limiting their reach to their regions (Pollard et al., 2015). This meant that great countries like India and China had little contact with other nations outside their areas of influence. Additionally, their system of writing made it difficult to pass the knowledge they acquired, which significantly limited their ability to maintain a proper pace of development with the Europeans. The result was that within a very short time, Europe was able to expand its dominance from 35% to 80% of the world population during and after the Industrial Revolution. This growing influence had ensured that the nations of Europe influenced all matters that were related to global trade and political issues.
Therefore, several factors contributed to the rise of European powers to the center stage of global trade and politics. The surge was not a matter of Europe’s greatness, but it was the result of a policy of consistency where several unrelated decisions culminated in ensuring that European nations controlled a significant part of the world. Through these decisions and actions, Europe was able to play a significant part in global affairs despite being small geographically. The knowledge above is essential as it allows one to learn about the path to world dominance. Moreover, it can be used by the nations that still struggle to define a way that will allow them to take their rightful place on the global political and economic arena.