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C O U R S E 
A History of the World since 1300
Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Global Upheavals of the Mid-19th Century
Notes taken on July 24, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
the prophetic Taiping Rebellion led to one of the world's bloodiest civil wars
reflected also the destitution that swept across China in the middle of the 19th century
but poverty and hunger, two of the most proximate causes of this upheaval, are not mere happenstance
except for e.g. unexpected climactic shocks
but on the scale and at the sustained level of what it was in the mid 19th century China
there are more structural, embedded reasons of why people would move toward this kind of violence
difficulty empire faced opening up new frontiers
population moving
a trap called the Malthusian trap
that population can or will outgrow the means to feed itself, the result being widespread famine
increasing weakness of the Qing state
unable to face the pressure from outsiders
the intersection of political and economic factors
Taiping Rebellion
called for a new order
also called for the restoration of an old order
why in the course of the 19th century did we see so many widespread, massive upheavals around the globe at roughly the same time?
similar prophetic movements in Mexico
1840s Mayan villagers rising up against the Mexican state
in America
War of 1812
prophetic leader of a back country movement
allied himself with the British
leaders of these movements delivered a prophetic vision as Moses did
prophetic drive to deliver people from bondage
even in Europe
farmers losing their lands
artisans losing jobs to factory workers
revolutions of 1848
1840s upheaval around the globe
Karl Marx
foresaw many of these revolutions
a prophetic figure in many senses
argued that there was something systemic happening
these revolutions had to do with a the new set of economic laws
his theory of capitalism
he and others were seeing major changes around them and were arguing for a hinge in world history
thought that these upheavals were the beginning of a movement that would bring the capitalist system down
called it the proletarian revolution
he was mistaken in a significant way
the people who were taking to the streets in 1848 in Paris, for example, were not the proletariat, or the factory workers, they were rather the losers in the transitions, i.e. the artists and the farmers
so Marx went back to revisit his theory and came back to it in the 1850s
in the mid 19th century, there was a growing discontent to the emerging world order
while they bear important common traits, a significant historical question is: what accounted for the simultaneity of these eruptions?