The Fruits of Civilization (23) The Early Modern Period

The Early Modern Period

The economic revival that began in earnest in western Europe in the mid-15th century continued through the 16th. Western Europeans were traveling the globe. Early in the 17th century, the usual checks of plague, famine, and war decimated the population of central Europe.

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The roots of unbalanced development and inequality around the world today grew from European expansion. The Western industrializing world was able to live beyond the constraints of its resource base by pillaging other lands and seas. This formed the basis for a vast increase in unsustainable consumption, and an obscene standard of living for masters of capital in the upper class. Much of the price of that achievement was paid for by the poverty and suffering of people in the places exploited: in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and central and south America. The current economic and environmental problems in the world can only be understood in the context of global dynamics that evolved from the 15th century.