The global order emerging in the nineteenth century was largely shaped by new economic and political forces unleashed in the latter part of the previous century. The center of the economy shifted away from the south and the Mediterranean toward the north and to the Atlantic. The American and French revolutions spread new ideas about liberty, equality, and representative government. Industrialization in England followed by the United States and Germany altered the balance of power in the social and political order. Power began shifting away from traditional landed elites to commercial, industrial, and financial ones. The rising wealth and power of these modern Atlantic states of Great Britain, the United States and of Europe more generally meant that the rest of the world would face the choice of adapting to the new economic and political realities or risk falling behind economically, scientifically and militarily. Increasingly these advanced industrialized states become the core of the world economy and those that remained most resistant to industrial modernization ended up on the economic periphery.
State building restrictions on trade gave way to demands for free trade. The middle classes demanded greater political representation. European and American merchants opened up markets around the world for development, investment and trade, sometimes by force. The American revolutionaries wanted to check excessive democracy and contain the lower social orders but the language of equality employed in their own Declaration of Independence came back to haunt them. The French revolution explored the boundaries of political radicalism, devolved into state terrorism and ultimately military dictatorship. Unfortunately, the instability of revolutionary France and not the relative stability of the United States became the norm for many subsequent revolutions in Latin America and Africa. The end of slavery in the industrial West did not reduce slavery in Africa. The political integration of former slaves in the West posed social challenges to previous norms.
These and many other changes in ideas, trade, business, and technology upended the pre-existing global order as power and wealth became concentrated in Britain and her offshoot the United States, and continental Europe. The rest of the world would have to decide how to adapt or risk falling further behind. Those nations that decided wholeheartedly to follow the new political and economic model, like Japan and South Korea, experienced a rapid rise in their living standards, while those that put up the most resistance to change ended up marginalized on the global periphery.