After the Second Industrial Revolution
The effect of fast communication technologies on International Relations after the Second Industrial Revolution (SRI) has been discussed from the point of view of learning about other people. SRI began the process of communication globalization as it exists today. The foundation for the development of new materials and technologies was laid during from approximately 1870 to 1914. The ability to communicate using reliable, efficient and fast technology has blurred nations’ borders around the world. The SIR brought a new way of packaging different materials and technologies into one important invention, the telegraph. The International Relations between nations was offered a peaceful means that motivated the making of new alliances starting with the telegraph. Nations’ leaders had a fast way to communicate that could mean the difference between war and peace. Complex networks on the Internet have been developed from simple beginnings. A global polity is emerging that has national characteristics such as law and civil society in flux.Now the world’s citizen can learn about each other and cooperate together for a better world. International Relations evolved from being an arena for only diplomats and academics to including anyone who has access to a computer.
Effect of Fast Communication Technologies on International Relations
After the Second Industrial Revolution
The Second Industrial Revolution (SIR) has revolutionized International Relations opening up an excellent opportunity to see how other people live all over the world. The international flow of communication provided for the first time by the telegraph was groundbreaking as a means for developing agreements between nations that were not based on military expansion. This paper proposes that the SRI began the process of globalization which is being experienced today. The telegraph started an opportunity for peaceful relationships between countries and between people that has continued with the development of new technology like phones and computers.
The Beginning of the SRI
According to Moykr (2012) the SIR lasted from 1870 to 1914, the beginning of World War I. Landes (2003) defines the common meaning for a industrial revolution. “The words ‘industrial revolution’ - in small letters – usually refer to that complex of technological innovations which, by substituting machines for human skill and inanimate power for human and animal force, brings a about a shift from handicraft to manufacture” (1). The Industrial Revolution (with capitalized letters) refers to the transition in England during the 1700s which redefined manufacturing, the roles of workers and how people communicated between nations. The SIR goes beyond the refining of materials for production and takes into account the creative ways the new materials were used.
The First Industrial Revolution did revolutionize methods of communication in ways that made an important impact on how countries solved problems. Think about if the transatlantic telephone had been invented before the American Revolution that war would have been fought in a much different way. And again if there were faster communication systems during the Civil War, the war would have ended when the end had been declared in Washington, D.C.
In the 1860s Goodheart (2012) explains that the communications systems were impressive when it came to the use of the telegraph. St. Louis, Missouri could communicate with New York in seconds with the telegraph. The coast to coast system was still the Pony Express though. (Goodheart, 2012, 28) Sometimes communication technology can be better appreciated by remembering communication failures that occurred that could have changed history if practical, useful, and especially speedy communication methods had been available. The end of the Civil War may be a good place to start to understand the communication systems available in the 1860s. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation which became official on January 1, 1863. The end of the Civil War and the end of slavery were announced in that proclamation. On June 19th, 1865 (two and one half years later) the citizens of Galveston, Texas learned of the news from Washington D.C. The people of Galveston declared a celebration for that day and called it Juneteenth. The contrast between the beginning of the SRI and contemporary times is striking. Juneteenth is now celebrated around the worldwide. (Robinson, 2010, Juneteenth.com)
Mokyr (2012) states that after 1850 the technological systems started becoming increasingly more complex; networks like the telegraph and the telephone began spreading out across the country and across borders (115). The ability for electricity to power technology was at first most successful with the telegraph than it was for any other purpose. The telegraph had the ability to take many of the technological advances in materials and inventions during the SRI and incorporate them into a single technology which was needed for an important, practical purpose (123).
The SRI and International Relations
The telegraph has been very important for international relations because “telegraph messages often had to cross international borders, they required something that few technological innovations had required before: international cooperation” (Mokyr, 2012, 124). After the telegraph was invented international alliances and agreements flourished. Not only could was diplomacy expanding but also journalists and people could communicate with new and different world cultures. Tourists could report back home about the new sites and sounds they were experiencing in their travels.
Zürn (2002) has explained that communication is a social, cross-border transaction which takes place wherever “services and capital, threats, pollutants, signs, or persons are exchanged or commonly produced” (85). In effect what is happening according to Zürn is a “societal denationalization” or what is commonly called globalization. He reports that even though globalization is usually used to refer to world trade it is even more impressive when considered as the way communication flows around the world (101).
Griffiths and O’Callaghan (2002) have explained that Communication is one of the key concepts of International Relations (1-2). Although their book was written one decade ago the point is well taken. Communication has been absolutely pivotal to relationships between nations, whether messages were sent and received by a Pony Express or are reflected from a satellite. A line of communication between world leaders can sometimes mean the difference between peace and war. World communications impact people who are caught suddenly in a natural disaster and are in need of immediate international help. This is important not only for communication between the leaders, diplomats and ambassadors of a country, but perhaps even more importantly, between the citizens in different countries.
Jorgenson and Rosamand (2002) discuss the vast difference in how relationships between nations are carried out in contemporary time in comparison to the past when national borders and nationalism were the main characteristics countries presented in the international arena. Instead of nationalism they argue European Union has introduced to other characteristics, actorness and presence, which they describe below.
The problem is that ‘the notion of an international actor is wedded, at least historically to the concept of the nation, sovereignty and the broad tenets of realpolitick . . . note how Europeanists have contributed to the idea of what a significant post-national or supra-national actor might look like . . . Presence requires a discernible EU impact upon international relations while ‘actorness’ is accomplished where a unit is clearly delimited from others, has a legal personality and possesses various structural prerequisites for action in the international arena. This distinguishes the EU from the conventional state and its foreign policy apparatus, but leaves largely unquestioned the nature of the polity it inhabits. (Jorgenson & Rosamand, 2002, 199)
A global polity is emerging that has national characteristics such as law and civil society in flux. The transition from nationalism to a new global polity is possible because of the new communication technologies.
Person to person communication in International Relations
It may be possible that the transition to a new global polity will lead to a more democratic international community. During the SRI the development of basic communication technologies meant that friendships were no longer restricted to a neighborhood, a city or a country. It became possible to have friends from anywhere in the world and communicate with them in a timely way. Not only were people interested to see how other people live but also to find out why they live that way. Now it was possible to successfully maintain personal relationships crossing international borders.
Cross border communication is easy, for example, when working cooperatively inside international organizations using electronic-mail or when using social networks such as Facebook and themultilife. The newest social network, themultilife, offers an amazing use of all the most recent Internet friendly technology including language translation tools. People from all over the world can communicate using their own languages because themultilife platform does the translating. Comments are automatically translated into the language of the person who has signed up to be in your group of followers. (themultilife, 2012, multilife.com)
Probably the most important development of global communication technologies is the ability of people from all over the world to organize and demand their rights on the very same day. The Occupy Wall Street Worldwide did that on a day called ‘The Day of Rage’ in October, 2011. Countries from all over the world, reportedly more than 80 countries in all, joined to protest “financial and social inequality” Taylor, 2011, theatlantic.com).
The Second Industrial Revolution brought a new way of packaging different materials and technologies into one important invention, the telegraph. The telegraph was a peaceful reason for using international cooperation in order to be able to communicate more quickly and easily. From that one invention the globalization of communication has changed the world forever.
Complex networks on the Internet have been developed from simple beginnings. Now the world’s citizen can learn about each other and cooperate together for a better world. International Relations evolved from being an arena for only diplomats and academics to including anyone who has access to a computer.
Akbari, A. (2012) themultilife. www.multilife.com.Retrieved from http://themultilife.com/index.php?p=home.
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Goodheart, A. (2012). 1861. New York, NY: Random House Vintage Books. Print.
Jorgenson, K.E. and Rosamond, B. Europe: Regional laboratory for a global polity? Chapter 9. Towards a Global Polity. Morten Ougaard & Richard Higgott, (Eds.) New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 189-206.
Landis, D. S. (2003). The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present. Second Edition. Cambridge, UK: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. Print.
Mokyr, J. (2012). The Lever of Riches. Technological Creativity and Economic Progress. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Print.
Robinson, C. (2010). Juneteenth – World Wide Celebration. History of Juneteenth. Web. Retrieved from www.Juneteenth.com/history.htm.
Taylor, A. (2011 Oct. 17) Occupy Wall Street Spreads Worldwide. InFocus with Alan Taylor The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-spreads-worldwide/100171/.
Zürn, M. (2002). “Societal denationalization and positive governance”. Chapter 4. Towards a Global Polity. Morten Ougaard & Richard Higgott, (Eds.) New York, NY: Routledge. Place, pp. 78 -106.