The first Era of Globalization

The process of globalization is one which has many components, including commonalities in economy, social, and cultural affairs, combined with the breakdown of political and cross border roadblocks to create a system of buying, selling, transporting and producing that is considered to reach all relevant parts of the planet. The resulting systems are always riddled with complexities, unforeseen consequences, and controversies that may or may not be widely known.

The first era of globalization is not well treated with a set of dates, epochs or eras, since the untold and unrecorded travels and interchanges of peoples that go farther back in history than is documented or known. It suffices to call the period of exploration and colonization by what are termed to be European countries and entities as the first era of globalilzation.

This is because the European based travels covered all major continents and were the most well documented in written form and in drawings and maps. But many lies were told and many facts were not accurately recorded. Still, there were many eras, epochs, disagreements and controversies as to “whom was first.”

Perhaps the first era of globalization never ended, but is still going on as a long and continuous era which has gone through various milestones. Not all peoples of the world are satisfied that colonialization by the dominant and powerful countries of the world ever truly ended, nor are they forgiving of the historical and ongoing excesses and troubles of the first era of globalization.

First era globalization, however, applies to far more than economic phenomena and was both catastrophic and contributory.  Examples include the transportation and spread of animal and plant species that may have improved food production or academic curiosity, but which introduced pests, invasive plants and other problems during the first era.

Other first era biological globalization included the spread of disease, death of indigenous peoples, and the rape of indigenous women and slaves as European and other travellers reached indigenous populations who had no resistance to advanced weaponry, rape or genocide of indigenous peoples, or treatment for the diseases.

Ecological globalization in the first era became apparent since the first desertification from overgrazing, mining or deforestation created dust clouds that spread to significant other parts of the globe. The spread of heavily destructive and polluting industrial processes and bad urban planning contributed to more disasters at the same time that new lessons were being learned to create the first ideas of ecology.

Religious, scientific, academic, artistic and other matters were globalized. Christianity, Islam and Judaism were globalized in the first era. But so were Atheism, Animism, Voudoun, Hinduism and Confucious. European and other systems of education, including restrictions to education based on social standing were introduced in the first era, too.

In the reverse, African, Asian, MesoAmerican, Middle Eastern and  other art, intellect and antiquities were either destroyed on a massive scale or were taken for permanent care and exhibition in public or private collections. Global looting during the colonial globalization era resulted in the great antiquities of the known world being looted and retained in collections that are still the source of much international outrage, diplomatic negotiation, restrictions on new discoveries and ongoing controversy.

The final component of globalization in the first era included the mining, logging and other operations that removed the valuable and rare mineral and natural assets of the colonies with enslavement or oppression of the indigenous peoples who performed the labor. As a result, the great diamond, gold and other rare and strategic mineral fortunes were built at the expense of the indigenous peoples of the world.

The first era of globalization was then irrevocably tied to exploration, invasion, killing, raping, disease spread, biological contamination, oppression and colonization. The result included the destruction of civilizations, the massive removal of valuable assets, untold deaths and the births of massive numbers of people who were a mix of invader and indigenous native.

In the reverse, the first era resulted in an unprecedented exchange of valuable academic, artistic, historical, linguistic, strategic, religious and other influences which have either enhanced or provided reasons for political and social resistance to some of the globalization efforts of today.

In summary, it is impossible to define a particular start to the first era and it is impossible to find an end to it. While there are distinct historical milestones, the impact of the first era of globalization is still to be counted, defined, enumerated or delineated, because it is more than likely an extended and an ongoing process rather than a single definable historical event.

Feroz Ahmed Bawany, “The First Era Of Globalization”,