The Political Ideology of the New Imperialism

The Old Imperialism sustains from 1450-1763, initiated by Portugal’s slave trade with local kings at some areas of Africa, to the end of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). The Old Imperialism mainly upholds the idea of economic profits, that were extracted from its colonies. The selling of slavery was a major section among the old imperialistic behaviors. For instance, the Columbian Exchange is the most prominent traditional colonial trade system, it imported raw materials from Americas, and manufacturing them at the “factories” in Africa. As a matter of fact, the Old Imperialism was merely considered as a product of European Global Exploration, while serving as a mean for commercial purposes. The New Imperialism, however, was stimulated by European technological advancements, as a notorious byproduct from the Industrial Revolution. For example, steamships allowed European nations to transport commodities more rapid and convenient than they used to; the construction of the Suez Canal significantly reduced the distance from Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, which increases the efficiency of transportation.





Additionally, political connotations were imposed on the New Imperialism, when a European country colonized a particular area, the central government would then become responsible for the colonies. Take Britain as an example, when the British took over India, it was considered as a part of the Britain Empire, which was under the throne of the Queen of England. Nationalism and Social Darwinism also created incentives for the scramble for Africa, as European states believed that the establishment of a global scale colonial empire would actually served as a function for ethnic self-determination. The Berlin Conference of 1885 greatly addressed the issues “the White Man’s Burden”, which states that Europeans were morally obligated to serve the “needs” of the colonized people, since Europeans were considered as superior group of people while others were considered as inferior people. Thus, above all these statements, the New Imperialism was triggered by a large-scale of reasons and symbolized a greater political influence upon its colonies.


Among all these causes, the greater need for raw materials to fit the increased demands of European markets, which was immensely promoted by the Industrial Revolution. Therefore, the limited resources at the continental European nations led to their acquisition of resources from other lands, Africa was the first choice for Europe. The manufacture of the raw materials from the colonies could be largely produced and eventually contribute to the growth of national economy, with economic advancements, one nation possesses the ability to participate in political matters in continental Europe, along with militaristic conquests. For instance, the skillful diplomatic maneuvers by the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck, he enlisted Austria in a short and successful war against Denmark (1864). However, Bismarck soon induced Austria to declare war at Prussia (1866), which Prussia has prepared for years, he seen used the same strategy made the France declared war at Prussia (1870), these three successful wars made Germany become unified at 1871. (ironically, the declaration was held in the Versailles.) All these political maneuvers seemed benefited the Germany a lot, however, when Wilhelm II got on the throne, he immediately averred that the German Empire deserves more colonies overseas, for which Africa was already dominated by British and French. Therefore, colonial empire built by Germany became quite inferior compared to English and French. Eventually, the New Imperialism of Germany leads itself to the outbreak of the World War I, which destroys almost everything that Bismarck had done for the Germany.


Of all currently prevailing documents shall find the devastative influence that the New Imperialism had brought on African countries. However, one thing needs to put out is that Africa did not even have a country by the time Europeans colonized them, chiefdoms and kingdoms at most. In contrast, when the Europeans conquered Asian countries, it actually triggered numerous ethnic conflicts and violence. When Britain conquered the Middle East, it puts people of different religions, ethnicities and culture together, which was a huge topic nowadays. The most devastative effect was upon Eastern Asia, under the throne of Qing Dynasty and Mughal Empire, the Eastern Asia was united, or relatively non-hostile. However, with the arrival of Europeans, they divided those countries to different parts and re-structure them. By the time of decolonization around the 1950s, those ethnic groups became hostile to each others and total wars were declared between Asian countries. For instance, Pakistan and India declared three large-scale wars in order to get control of the Kashmir regions, the fact is, they used to belong in the same country.

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