Cursuri Geopolitca SELS An 1

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Domenii: Stiinte Politice, Franceza, Geografie

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C3. Main schools of geopolitical thought in the modern world economy

1. Introduction

Throughout history, authors from all over the world have identified and described the relationships between power, territory, conflict and location. Concepts relevant to geopolitical thought can be found in the writings of Aristotle, Confucius, Machiavelli and many other ancient and medieval authors. But the formal study of geopolitics began in the late 19th century with the end of the Age of Exploration. By that time, the European powers had explored and begun to establish colonies in all the inhabited parts of the world.

The modern world economy is characterized by capitalism, global economic interdependence and political fragmentation. The world economy as we understand it today began to emerge in Western Europe at the time of the Renaissance. As the world economy developed, the concept of a nation-state began to emerge. Nation-states were delimited territorially, and they linked cultures and ethnic groups to specific political units. By the end of the Middle Ages, many of today’s major European nation-states, including England, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries, had already come into existence.

At the same time that modern nation-states began to emerge, their economies became increasingly interdependent. Since that time, the modern world economy has expanded to encompass the entire world civilization.

The modern world system stands in contrast to two previously recognized modes of international economic organization. These include mini-systems and world empires. A mini-system is a small, isolated society that lacks permanent trade relationships with other societies. Typically, tribal groups in various pre-industrial societies such as the aborigines of Australia, pre-Columbian American Indians and similar societies elsewhere in the world are considered mini-systems although contemporary archeological evidence indicates that trade relationships among the “primitive” societies were far more complex and sophisticated than would be typical of a mini-system in theory. For example, archeologists have discovered artifacts manufactured by the Mayans of Central America in sites in the present-day eastern and central United States; in other words, clear evidence that a sophisticated system of trade relationships existed among indigenous Native American cultures long before of arrival of European settlers.

World empires were political entities that achieved economic, military and political domination of large territories comprising many distinct nations. The Roman Empire, the Aztecs and the Incas of the Americas, the Babylonians and Assyrians of the Ancient Middle East, and the various dynasties of ancient and medieval China are examples of world empires. As world empires expanded, they eventually became unstable. The collection of tribute (food, tax revenues, capital and labor) over larger and larger areas required an increased bureaucracy as well as a larger and larger military establishment to enforce payment of tribute. As expansion continued, the costs of defending expanded borders became prohibitive, and eventually the world empire would collapse of its own weight.

The concept of a world empire is illustrated through examination of the Roman Empire, which began as a modest city-state in the vicinity of modern-day Rome. Over several centuries Rome began to conquer neighboring city-states, and by 300 BC it had become dominant over much of modern-day peninsular Italy. Rome’s victory over Carthage in the Punic Wars gave to the Roman Empire undisputed control over the central Mediterranean. By the time of Christ, the Romans had expanded throughout Europe and the Middle East and into Africa and western Asia. In time, however, the Roman state began to weaken. Germanic tribes began to rebel against Roman domination. The empire began to decline – at first gradually and then more rapidly, before AD 500, the Roman Empire had collapsed completely.

2. The dawn of modern geopolitics

By 1900, the task of mapping and exploring the earth and its resources had largely been completed. All of the inhabitable or commercially valuable parts of the world had been divided into formal colonies controlled directly by the European powers as in Africa, or into less formal spheres of influence, which were nevertheless subject to European economic and political control as in East Asia. Because the Age of Exploration had now passed into history, no longer could the European powers expand their resource bases through the incorporation of additional colonies outside Europe. Increasingly, the arena of conflict moved from outside Europe to Europe itself. It is no coincidence that the late 19th century, a time in which the earth’s resources had been surveyed and the incorporation of the entire world into the European-dominated world economy had been completed, was the period in which formal geopolitical thinking emerged in Europe.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, distinct schools of thought emerged in many different countries. In large measure, the geopolitical views were closely intertwined with the foreign policy goals of the country of origin. Common to each approach, however, was a concern with large-scale, systematic generalization along with particular emphasis on the role of the scholar’s home country within the developing and ever-changing world political order.

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  • Cursuri Geopolitca SELS An 1
    • Geopolitics 01.doc
    • Geopolitics 02.doc
    • Geopolitics 03.doc
    • Geopolitics 04.doc
    • Geopolitics 05.doc
    • Geopolitics 06.doc
    • Geopolitics 07.doc
    • Geopolitics 08.doc
    • Geopolitics 09.doc
    • Geopolitics 10.doc

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