Cycles of Silver: Globalization as historical process
Dennis O. Flynn
& Arturo Giráldez
Published: June 2002
Absent a workable definition of the term ‘globalization’, debates today lack
intellectual rigor. Most consider globalization a 20th-century (even post-1945)
phenomenon. In fact, globalization was born when Manila was founded as a
Spanish entrepôt in 1571. Connections across the Pacific Ocean (one third of
Earth’s surface area) finally linked Asia with the Americas (about another third of
the globe); American linkages with the Afro-Eurasian ‘Old World’ (approximately
one third of Earth’s surface) had previously existed since 1492. Immense demand
for silver in China, the world’s dominant economy, induced global connections.
Europeans were middlemen. Multi-century commercial, epidemiological,
ecological, and demographic interactions were unleashed at a planetary level.
These historical forces heavily influence global relations today.