Explain what is meant by the term imperialism.
Discuss the causes of imperialism in the 1800s.
Mico University College
Imperialism in Africa
October 29, 2011
Imperialism is "the creation and or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination" (Johnston, 2000.p.375). In its simplest form Farah and Karls (2001) describes imperialism as one country’s domination of the political, economical and social life of another country. The Europeans imperialism during the 1800s occurs out of the advantages of strong economies, well organized governments and powerful armies and navies. ‘Superior technology including riverboats and telegraph, as well as improved medical knowledge also played a part’ (Esler et al 2009.p.752). Advances such as the Maxim Machines Guns and steam driven warships were very strong signals in persuading the Africans and Asian to accept European domination. European imperialism did not begin in the 1800s. European states have had empires in the Americas after 1492 and in South Asia and China. Imperialism has been found in the histories of Japan, the Assyrian Empire, the Chinese Empire, the Roman Empire, Greece, the Persian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, ancient Egypt, and India and was a basic component in the conquest of weaker state. According to Smith (1998) the word itself, derived from the Latin verb imperare (to command), the Roman concept of imperium, while the actual term 'Imperialism' was coined in the 16th century, reflecting what are now seen as the imperial policies of Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Imperialism not only describes colonial and territorial policies, but also economic and/or military dominance and influence. From about 1870 to 1914, imperialist gain control over much of the world. Leading the way were the soldiers, merchants, settlers, missionaries, and explorers. In Europe, imperial expansion found favor with all classes, from bankers and manufacturers to workers. Western imperialism expanded rapidly for a number of reasons. The imperialism in the 1800s resulted from four key factors. First, nationalism created an atmosphere in which rival European countries build empires in their competitive quest for dominance in Europe and indeed the world. Secondly, the Industrial revolution created an extraordinary demand for raw material and new markets, which in essence push industrialized nations to seek over sea territories. Thirdly imperialism rested on the notion of what was called the “White Mans Burden”. This was a belief that was held by the European powers that it was their responsibility to civilize the people who the belief was pagans. Farah and Karls (2001) lamented that humanitarian impulses inspired many individuals to leave their secure lives at home and head for distant colonies. The desire was to spread western technology, religion, custom and tradition to those how were seen as the uncivilized. Finally, according to Ellis and Esler (2009) behind the idea of western civilizing mission was the growing since of racial superiority. European races, the lamented, were believed to be superior to all others and domination of the weaker races was simply nature’s way of improving the human species. Nationalism played a vital role in the drive towards imperialism. ‘Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms’ (Athena, 2001.p.226) .It is also seen as the belief that a nation will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals Ellis et al (2009) lamented that western leaders claimed that colonies were needed for national security. In the last half of the 1800s European nations...
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