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Violence and War in Promoting Economic Growth

  • Date Submitted: 11/06/2012 03:29 PM
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History of globalization
Mid-term essay

“The role of violence and war in both promoting and hindering
the development of the world economy between 1500 and 1914”

Antoine Perrier (Sciences Po Graduate School – History)

Kenneth Andrews (1984) stresses on the « aptitude for warfare and predation » in construction of English power between 1550 and 1630. The English policy was indeed quite aggressive; Great-Britain built its powerful empire in exerting domination on the world. But domination proceeds from violence, and basically from war. In order to distinguish violence and war, it is considered that war is punctual form of violence. That is to say war is an event, an ephemeral manifestation of violence, whereas violence is integrated in a system, in the long-term and, largely speaking, in social habits. The example of Britain is relevant insofar as British development, which ends the studied period (1500-1914), is exemplary. It demonstrates the essential link between economic development and violence in all forms of that. This edification seems to be quite paradoxical with the development of ideas and representations in the same period; as Norbert Elias showed; the “civilizing process” eases progressively violent habits, in the perspective of inconsideration of violence. Violence was condemned as demonstration of basic instincts of savage nature of human beings, contrary to Middle-Age ideas system. However, economic facts prevail sometimes on ideological tenets, and the paper would like to show why. The paradoxical birth of humanist spirit on Europe doesn’t contradict the connection between word economy and violence. But this link is quite disputable and complex: it is both possible to consider violence as the mean of economic power and as its consequence. In other words, we don’t know clearly if violence nurtures economy, or if economy needs violence to work perfectly. The aim of this paper would be demonstrating the dramatic ambivalence of violence in...


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