Episode 110: The Modern Era in the East or, “Knock Knock. It’s the West.”

Last time we explored the Age of Imperialism in Africa, India and the Pacific. The West was able to successfully conquer most of the world through its advanced technology and ruthless superiority complex. But now they’re going to attempt to crack open the big guys. Some of these are the empires that we’ve been talking about all season – the heavy hitters in world history: China and the Middle East. And other are new, young powers that have been partially adapting to the rise of the west – Russia and Japan. Who will be left standing by the 20th century? (Japan) And who will succumb to the rise of the west? (Everyone but Japan.)

Act 1: Opium is a Gateway Drug | Qing Dynasty

Act 2: Russia and the Ottomans Try Their Best

Act 3: Japan Wins! | The Meiji Restoration

So, the east has had mixed success resisting western influence. The Chinese failed spectacularly and are now ready to get rid of the thousands-year-old dynastic cycle for something new. The Ottomans and the Russian do their best to be like the west but they’re never quite comfortable with constitutionalism and limiting their own power. They’re wearing the clothes but not fully committing. Both empires will be dead within twenty years. But Japan has shown what could have been. They rejected western intervention in favor of modernizing themselves, while still maintaining their culture and nationalistic loyalty. And they are going to expand out across the Pacific, ultimately running up against another new power trying to set up an empire of their own: the United States.

 

To be continued…

(Check out Episode 111!)

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