History of Globalization
Some historians believe that economic and social globalization can be traced to 320 BCE, with the establishment of the Maurya Empire in India. The Maurya Empire was among the first societies to develop international commerce, having established trade with Asia and Europe.
During the second century BCE, natives of present-day China established the Silk Road, a trade route that ran through China, Egypt, Persia, India and Rome. The Silk Road was a multilateral project, with each nation contributing to the protection of trade routes and the establishment of trade protocols.
Eventually, religious organizations from Asia, India, Mesopotamia and Europe established communities and worship sites in foreign nations. Environmental globalization was initiated through the exchange of crops and livestock. By the tenth century CE, nearly all imperial societies were involved in international trade, and the exchange of religion, philosophy and biological organisms accompanied economic links.
By the mid 1300s, international trade was accomplished by ocean transport. The intentional and unintentional transport of animals and plants led to the extinction of numerous species around the world. The spread of diseases such as the Black Plague also accompanied international trade. However, the transport of agricultural products contributed to the growth of many nations, allowing them to build a stock of goods for export.
The rise of European colonialism in the 1400s hastened the development of intricate trade regulations. European colonial powers grew during the 1600s and 1700s as many nations participated in capturing and selling slaves from Africa, the Americas and elsewhere. Slavery became one of the chief forces for cultural globalization as traders inadvertently created ethnic populations in foreign nations.
From the 1600s through the early 1800s, global economics was based on mercantilism and political influence was tied to the size of a nation's merchant fleet and its accumulation of tradable goods. By the end of the 1700s, some nations were shifting toward protectionism while attempting to improve their infrastructure. Domestic upheaval occurred as independence movements began to surface in opposition to imperial governments.
Capitalism emerged in Europe and the Americas during the mid- to late eighteenth century, accompanied by the development of democratic political systems. The colonial period in Europe and Asia gradually declined during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, giving rise to new nations with trading ties to their former colonizers.
In the first half of the twentieth century, shifts in political power created an ebb and flow of international trade. As resources were depleted in some nations, the export capital of other nations grew and economic pressures led to increased economic cooperation, legislation and military conflict.
More nations began to utilize economic measures, in place of or in addition to military conflict, to settle international disputes. In 1945, the World Bank was established, followed by the International Monetary Fund in 1947. The establishment of these organizations was intended to help regulate and monitor the economic relationships between countries.
The development of radio, television, and most recently Internet technology greatly hastened the pace and potential for intercultural exchange. In addition, immigration and international travel have created ethnic communities in many nations. Marriage and interbreeding further obscure traditional divisions between societies.
Whereas the globalization debate previously focused on the activities of governments and social organizations, the growth of multinational corporations and e-commerce gave rise to a new facet of the debate. Corporations have increasingly become the chief agents for globalization.