Imperialism Essay

1810 words - 7 pages

Imperialism is the process in which one state imposes its control upon another through military force or political action in order to exploit the area for raw materials and strategic purposes. The period of 1870 until the beginning of the Great War in 1914 marked a time of “New Imperialism” for the European powers. Much like that of the first “wave” of imperialism that took place from the sixteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, the European powers started to expand their control over much of the globe. It is during this time when several European countries once again start to exploit and conquer areas, shifting their focus from the Atlantic world, to the lands of Africa and Asia. At the start of the seventeenth century the European powers controlled 35 percent of the world’s land. Due to the resurgence of imperialism, the European powers controlled 84 percent by the start of the First World War in 1914. The aptly named “scramble for Africa” was amongst the most dramatic instances of division by the Europe powers in the late nineteenth century. Several factors drove the new age of imperialism within Europe. Although the desire to become the strongest empire was perhaps the most important explanation put forth by the European powers, many other justifications were given for the exploitation brought about by the new age of imperialism.
“Take up the White Man’s burden- / Send forth the best ye breed -” is the call to action put forth by Rudyard Kipling in his 1899 poem “The White Man’s Burden”. In his poem, Kipling expresses a common belief among the bourgeoisie during his time. It is the burden of the “White Man”, the superior race, to take care of those “inferior” people beneath them in society. Kipling’s poem provided justification to the “civilizing missions” which were taking place in countries like Africa and Asia due to European imperialism. The Europeans in favour of imperialism believed it was their right to help the “inferior” peoples, and often defended their exploitative behaviour as such.
There were many different types of “civilizing missions” attempted during the age of New Imperialism. Religious missions were commonplace for many European countries, much like they had been for centuries before. God’s Will was still a common defense supplied by colonists for their actions in distant lands. Several countries, including France, Great Britain, and Spain had sent out religious missionaries to Africa, Asia, and India in an attempt to unite all men under God. It is estimated that in the year 1900 nearly eighteen thousand English Protestant missionaries lived in colonies worldwide. Many non-European peoples, specifically those of the Islamic faith, were considered enemies because of their religion. Other countries such as The Netherlands, Belgium and Italy choose to send missionaries to these countries as ways of raising the morale of the troops that were already stationed there. Much like the first colonists four hundred...

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