The two world wars of

and the collapse of the old colonial system still seem to be insufficient to explain.

I think this question can be basically equivalent to “how did Germany and the United States surpass the world overlord Britain in industry?”

in the mid-19th century, no one could foresee the relative decline of Britain. At that time, thanks to taking the lead in completing the first industrial revolution, Britain’s industrial advantage seemed almost unchallengeable. In 1850, Britain, which accounted for 2% of the world’s population, produced 60.2% of the world’s coal, 50.9% of iron and processed 46.1% of the world’s cotton. It is a real world factory. London is the world’s financial center. The Bank of England is known as the world’s central bank. Britain’s total economy accounts for 40% of the world. In addition, Britain’s military power also dominates the world. The colonial territory has reached more than 100 times the local area and the colonial population is nearly 400 million. Because the sun shines on the British Mi flag all the time, it is known as the sun never sets empire. The vast colonies provide it with cheap raw materials and labor all over the world. It is ahead of the rest of the world and far beyond today’s United States.




, the most advanced technology, the most dominant position, the most powerful military support, the widest market and raw material supply. Even it can carry forward the financial industry originally created by the Netherlands. Everything is so strong and vibrant.

Georg Friedrich List (1789 ~ 1846), a famous economist in Germany in the 19th century, was the main advocate of early trade protectionism. In 1841, he put forward the theory of productivity in his masterpiece the national system of political economy The theory of economic development stage and the theory of infant industrial protection explain the path of German industry catching up with advanced countries, which is the theoretical and policy basis of German economic rise in the second half of the 19th century. Liszt is also known as an economic catch-up theorist, but the economist who is committed to making Germany catch up with Britain does not believe that Germany can surpass Britain to death. At this time, the output of “SPE” and “spkds” in Britain was more than 2.3 million tons of coal (not long after the “SPE” revolution in Germany), which was more than 2.3 million tons of “SPE” and “spkds”; At this time, the United States was even more frustrated. It was still an agricultural country. It kept slaves on farms, engaged in planting, exported simple textiles, earned meager profits, and waited for the civil war ten years later.

who can foresee that virtue will overturn this pattern 50 years later? (in 1900, the United States accounted for 31% of the world’s total economy, compared with 18% in Britain and 16% in Germany) well, Liszt died too early. His theory is very important and will be mentioned later.

so what happened in the second half of the 19th century (1870-1900) that made the United States and Germany complete this impossibleMission?

the answer can be very simple. The second industrial revolution began. The economic development history of




has repeatedly proved that the most possible way for technologically backward countries to catch up with technologically advanced countries is to intervene strongly in the form of national will in the early stage of the new industrial revolution and establish advantages in emerging industrial sectors. It is at this stage that the United States and Germany established a complete industrial system and achieved leapfrog development.

but the answer can also be not so simple. Why can the United States and Germany take the opportunity of the second industrial revolution to achieve this great leap forward development?

in fact, the second industrial revolution still germinated from Britain. He discovered the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction, and his invention of electromagnetic rotating device became the basis of motor technology. Henry Bessemer invented the Bessemer converter process and Charles Parsons invented the steam turbine engine. At the same time, the advantages of Britain’s traditional industries (i.e. industries dominated by Britain in the first industrial revolution, such as textile and iron making) were not lost, and they were still ahead of the United States and Germany before World War I.

here we would like to invite Mr. Liszt and his naive industrial protection theory again.

since the publication of Adam Smith’s wealth of nations in 1776, free trade has been popular. As the most powerful country, Britain is constantly selling trade liberalization prescriptions to all countries, as if the status of copy Britain is just around the corner (is it very similar to the United States now? If you instinctively dislike the word trade protection, Congratulations, you also got caught): Liszt made a fierce criticism on this, It is believed that free trade will only benefit Britain, which has already occupied an absolute advantage. Germany should recognize its own stage of economic development, protect domestic infant industries that have just begun to develop and have strong foreign competitors by levying tariffs, and rely on the strength of the state to develop its own national industries until domestic industrial products have international competitiveness, and then through free trade, Participate in the global division of labor and enjoy the benefits of exchange. (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) The subsequent development of the United States and Germany confirmed the correctness of this theory.

the United States is not the original inventor of new technologies (the Germans invented the internal combustion engine and Siemens open hearth, which are more advanced than the United States). They learn new technologies from Europe, but the newly established industrial system does not have international competitiveness. Only through the policies of high tariff protection and exclusion of foreign direct investment can we ensure the monopoly of domestic industry on the domestic market, Compete with foreign products. Moreover, compared with the narrow countries in Europe, the United States was politically stable, vast territory, large population and huge market potential. New technologies spread to the United States, quickly digested and re created, resulting in countless new patented technologies, which in turn occupied the market of European technology pioneer countries. At this time, there were people like thunder and Tesla (this guy who surpasses genius is Serbian and was introduced to the United States from Paris). As for Germany, although with the efforts of Liszt, Germany in 1834A customs union was established within the Confederation of will and began to implement the trade protection policy with the tariff system as the core. However, under the influence of the British free trade policy, the Juncker landlord class actively advocated free trade from the 1950s to 1970s, and the free trade policy gained the upper hand in Germany. Until 1873, the world economic crisis broke out. After the unification of Germany, industry and agriculture suffered heavy losses successively. The dumping of foreign agricultural products such as the United States harmed the interests of Juncker’s landlord class. The steel industry also needs to boycott steel imports from Britain and Belgium. The whole country has finally reached an agreement on raising tariffs and trade protection. Officially began the trade protection policy. At the same time, the government began to consciously guide the development of heavy industry. Human and material resources were concentrated in the emerging industrial sectors in the second industrial revolution. Germany’s electrical, chemical, railway, steel and other industries quickly jumped to the forefront of the world. From 1880 to 1900, Germany’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 6%, far exceeding that of Britain. By the 1880s, Germany’s coal output reached nearly 60 million tons and pig iron output reached more than 2.7 million tons.

as for the UK, it has not declined rapidly. However, it is almost instinctive to stick to its advantages, and the UK can not avoid customs. Since the existing textile, coal and steel industries have enabled British capitalists to make money quickly, it is natural that they will not invest most of their human and material resources in emerging industries like virtue. Britain has not stopped, but the gradual loss of absolute advantage is a proven reality.

digression: Peter marsh, the author of the new industrial revolution, came to give a lecture a while ago. He is an Englishman living in the United States. Since he is talking about the new industrial revolution, it is natural to review several industrial revolutions, talk about the high spirits of the first industrial revolution and the heartache of the changes in the status of the United States and Britain during the second industrial revolution, The rapid transformation of that emotion is really sad…

finally, I wish history will continue to follow this cycle.