Richard Melson

October 2006

Amiya Kumar Bagchi

Perilous Passage:

Mankind and the Global Ascendancy of Capital

(World Social Change)

by Amiya Kumar Bagchi (Author)

Perilous Passage: Mankind and the Global Ascendancy of Capital/Amiya Kumar Bagchi. Reprint. New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2006, xxiv, 425 p., tables, $40. ISBN 0-19-568347-1.

Contents: List of tables. Preface. Acknowledgements. Abbreviations. I: Conceptual issues: Human development and capitalist growth: 1. History of human development as the subject of history. 2. Construction of the European miracle. 3. Profit seeking under actually existing capitalism and human development. II. Capitalist competition and human development in Europe: 4. Race for dominance among the Western European countries since the sixteenth century. 5. Population growth and mortality between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries: a first look. 6. The Netherlands: rise and fall of a hegemonic power. 7. Delayed transition to a low-mortality regime in Europe and North America. 8. Literacy in Western Europe since the sixteenth Century. III: The world beyond Europe in the age of emergence of European dominance: 9. China's economic development and quality of life between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. 10. India under Mughal rule and after. 11. Conducting trade in Asia before and after the European advent. 12. Reconsidering Japanese exceptionalism. 13. Capitalist competition, colonialism, and the physical well-being of non-European peoples. 14. Civilizing mission and racialization: from native Americans to Asians. 15. Civilizing mission in lands taken by European settlers from the original inhabitants. 16. Intercontinental resource flows sustaining the ascent of the European powers. 17. Colonial tribute and profits, 1870s onward. 18. Demographic disasters in the colonies and semicolonies in the Heyday of European Colonialism. IV. The twentieth century: antisystemic struggles, wars, and challenges to global capital: 19. Setting the stage for Megawars. 20. Revolution, Nazism, Japanese militarism, and World War II. 21. Imperialism and wars in the late twentieth century. 22. Capitalism and uneven development in the twentieth century. 23. Destruction and renewal in the neoliberal global order. 24. Contradictions, challenges, and resistance. References. Appendices: 1. Malthusianism and social Darwinism as ideologies of control. 2. B European colonialism and Racism at home: the case of Ireland. References to appendices. Index. About the author.

"Investigating the emergence of the states on the North Atlantic seaboard as prosperous and powerful nations, and their eventual domination over the rest of the world, Perilous Passage presents an engaging account of the economic emergence of the contemporary world. Differing radically from the 'free market' theorists, Bagchi provides a much-needed alternative perspective of global economic history from sixteenth century to contemporary times.

The author brings together insights of historians of war and those of Marxist and world-system theorists to characterize the emergence and operation of capitalism. Moving beyond the 'European miracle' and a eurocentric vision, he provides a comprehensive history and the reciprocal impact of the extra-European world. Bagchi also explores the numerous ways in which the armed ascendancy of European capitalism impacted the human development of different countries.

Going beyond existing interpretative frameworks, this book highlights the role of capitalist competition for markets, raw materials, territories, and human labour. It interweaves the ideologies governing the conquering career of capitalism. The author also situates the neo-global order against the backdrop of antisystemic struggles, wars, and contradictory movements within global capital.

The uniqueness of this volume also lies in presenting a global history, which for the first time puts human development at centre stage. Departing from the triumphalist account of development of currently advanced countries, it treats the development of all peoples of the world as being equally important.

Amiya Bagchi's vision and nuanced approach coupled with meticulous scholarship and lucid rendition, makes this volume indispensable for scholars, teachers, and students of rise of the modern West, global economic history, and modern European history." (jacket)

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