New Imperialism
This article is part of
the New Imperialism
series.
Origins of New Imperialism
Imperialism in Asia
The Scramble for Africa
Theories of New Imperialism

New Imperialism refers to the colonial expansion adopted by Europe's powers and, later, Japan and the United States, during the 19th and early 20th centuries; expansion took place from the French conquest of Algeria until World War I: approximately 1830 to 1914. The period is distinguished by an unprecedented pursuit of overseas territorial acquisitions.

The qualifier "new" is to contrast with the earlier wave of European colonization from the 15th to early 19th centuries.

Contents

Rise of New Imperialism

The American Revolution and the collapse of the Spanish Empire in the early 1810–20s, following the revolutions in the viceroyalties of New Spain, New Granada, Peru, and the Rio de la Plata ended the first era of European imperialism. Especially in the United Kingdom (UK), these revolutions helped show the deficiencies of mercantilism, the doctrine of economic competition for finite wealth which had supported earlier imperial expansion. In 1846, The Corn Laws, which were the regulations governing the import and export of grain, were repealed after a great deal of protesting from the middle class. Because of the repeal, manufacturers were faced with a tremendous benefit, seeing that the regulations enforced by the Corn Laws had slowed their businesses. With the repeal in place, the manufacturers were then able to trade more freely. Thus, the UK began to adopt the concept of free trade.[1] The Pax era also saw the enforced opening of key markets to European, particularly British, commerce. This activity followed the erosion of Pax Britannica, during which British industrial and naval supremacy underpinned an informal empire of free trade and commercial hegemony.

An oil painting of the delegates to the Congress of Vienna.
The Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, (1819). The congress was actually a series of face-to-face meetings between colonial powers. It served to divide and reappropriate imperial holdings.

During this period, between the 1815 Congress of Vienna (after the defeat of Napoleonic France) and the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), Britain reaped the benefits of being the world's sole modern, industrial power. As the "workshop of the world", the United Kingdom could produce finished goods so efficiently that they could usually undersell comparable, locally manufactured goods in foreign markets, even supplying a large share of the manufactured goods consumed by such nations as Germany, France, Belgium, and the United States.

The erosion of British hegemony after the Franco-Prussian War, in which a coalition of German states led by Prussia defeated France, was occasioned by changes in the European and world economies and in the continental balance of power following the breakdown of the Concert of Europe, established by the Congress of Vienna. The establishment of nation-states in Germany and Italy resolved territorial issues that had kept potential rivals embroiled in internal affairs at the heart of Europe (to Britain's advantage). The years from 1871 to 1914 would be marked by an extremely unstable peace. France’s determination to recover Alsace-Lorraine, a territory formerly located in France that had been annexed by Germany, and Germany’s mounting imperialist ambitions would keep the two nations constantly poised for conflict.[2]

Economically, adding to the commercial competition of old rivals like France were now the newly industrializing powers, such as Germany and the United States. Needing external markets for their manufactured goods, all sought ways to challenge Britain's dominance in world trade – the consequence of its early industrialization.[citation needed]

This competition was sharpened by the Long Depression of 1873-1896, a prolonged period of price deflation punctuated by severe business downturns, which put pressure on governments to promote home industry, leading to the widespread abandonment of free trade among Europe's powers (in Germany from 1879 and in France from 1881).[3][4]

The resulting limitation of both domestic markets and export opportunities led government and business leaders in Europe, and later the U.S., to see the solution in sheltered overseas markets attached to the home country by imperial tariff barriers: new overseas colonies would provide export markets free of foreign competition, while supplying cheap raw materials for their mother country to use as they saw fit.[citation needed]

The revival of working-class militancy and emergence of socialist parties during the Depression decades led conservative governments to view colonialism as a force for national cohesion in support of the domestic status quo. Also, in Italy, and to a lesser extent in Germany and Britain, tropical empires in India and Burma were seen as outlets for what was deemed a surplus home population.[citation needed]

The Berlin Conference

The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 sought to regulate the competition between the powers by defining "effective occupation" as the criterion for international recognition of a territory claim. (Specifically in Africa) The imposition of direct rule in terms of "effective occupation" necessitated routine recourse to armed force against indigenous states and peoples. Uprisings against imperial rule were put down ruthlessly, most spectacularly in German South-West Africa and German East Africa in the years 1904 and 1907, respectively. One of the goals of the conference was to reach agreements over trade, navigation, and boundaries of Central Africa. However, of all of the 15 nations in attendance of the Berlin Conference, none of the countries represented were African.[9]

The main dominating powers of the conference were France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal. They remapped Africa without considering the cultural and linguistic borders that were already established. At the end of the conference, Africa was divided into 50 different colonies. The attendants established who was in control of each of these newly divided colonies. They also planned, noncommittally, to end the slave trade in Africa. This conference not only laid out the rules of this "feeding frenzy" but it also made it easier for Germany to participate since they hosted and planned out the conference.[10]

Britain During the Era of New Imperialism

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and Queen Victoria

In Britain, the latter half of the 19th century has been seen as the period of displacement of industrial capitalism by finance capitalism. As the country's relative commercial and industrial lag encouraged the creation of larger corporations and combines, close association of industry and banks added to the influence of financiers over the British economy and politics.[5]

Britain's lag in other fields deepened her reliance on invisible exports (such as banking, insurance and shipping services) to offset a merchandise trade deficit dating from the beginning of commercial liberalization in 1813, and thereby keep her "out of the red." Although it had been official British policy for years to support such investments, the large expansion of these investments after about 1860 and the economic and political instability in many areas of high investment such as Egypt, brought increased pressure for their systematic protection.

Britain's entry into the old imperial age is often dated to 1875, when the government of Benjamin Disraeli bought the indebted Egyptian ruler Ismail's shareholding in the Suez Canal to secure control of this waterway, deemed a strategic holding since its opening six years earlier as a shipping lane between Britain and India. Joint Anglo-French financial control over Egypt ended in outright British occupation in 1882.[citation needed]

Fear of Russia's centuries-old southward expansion was a further factor in British policy: in 1878, Britain took control of Cyprus as a base for action against a Russian attack on the Ottoman Empire, and invaded Afghanistan to forestall an increase in Russian influence there. The Great Game in Inner Asia ended with a bloody British assault against Tibet in 1903-1904.

At the same time, some powerful industrial lobbies and government leaders in Britain, exemplified by Joseph Chamberlain, came to view a formal empire as necessary to arrest Britain's relative decline in world markets. Britain's adoption of New Imperialism in the 1890s followed by its quick emergence as the front-runner in the scramble for African territories may be seen as a quest for captive markets or fields for investment of surplus capital, or (somewhat more cynically) as a primarily strategic or preemptive attempt to protect existing trade links and to prevent the absorption of its overseas markets into the imperial trading blocs of rival powers. The failure in the 1900s of Chamberlain's campaign for imperial tariffs illustrates the strength of a free trade movement even in the face of loss of international market share.

France during the era of Old Imperialism

Government leaders, such as Jules Ferry of France, concluded that sheltered overseas markets would solve the problems of low prices and over-accumulation of surplus capital caused by their shrinking continental markets.

The expansion of the French colonial empire was also seen as a method of 'rejuvenating' the country after its humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871; the military actions needed to secure empire were seen by colonial enthusiasts as 'the first, faltering steps of convalescence'. This plan, however, did meet with some popular resistance, and Ferry himself was removed from office twice over colonial disputes.[citation needed]

The New Imperialism era and the newly industrialized countries

Just as the U.S. emerged as one of the world's leading industrial, military and political powers after the Civil War, so would Germany, following its own unification in 1871. Both countries undertook ambitious naval expansion in the 1890s. And just as Germany reacted to economic depression with the adoption of tariff protection in 1879 and colonial expansion in 1884-85, so would the U.S., the landslide election in 1896 of William McKinley, would soon be associated with the high McKinley Tariff of 1890.

United States colonial expansionism had its roots in domestic concerns and economic conditions, much like other newly industrializing nations whose governments sought to accelerate internal development. Advocates of the imperial system also drew upon a tradition of westward expansion over the course of the previous century. Economic depression led some U.S. businessmen and politicians from the mid-1880s to come to the same conclusion as their European counterparts—that industry and capital had exceeded the capacity of existing markets and needed new outlets. The "closing of the Frontier" identified by the 1890 Census report and publicized by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in his 1893 paper The Significance of the Frontier in American History, contributed to fears of constrained natural resource.

Like the Long Depression in Europe, the main features of the U.S. depression included deflation, rural decline, and unemployment, which aggravated the bitter social protests of the "Gilded Age"—the Populist movement, the free-silver crusade, and violent labor disputes such as the Pullman and Homestead strikes.

The Panic of 1893 contributed to the growing mood for expansionism. Influential politicians such as Henry Cabot Lodge, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt advocated a more aggressive foreign policy to pull the United States out of the depression. However, opposition to expansionism was strong and vocal in the United States. Whatever the causes, the result of the 1898 Spanish-American War was that the U.S. came into the possession of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Puerto Rico remains a territory of the United States.

Although U.S. capital investments within the Philippines and Puerto Rico were relatively small (figures that would seemingly detract from the broader economic implications on first glance), "imperialism" for the United States, formalized in 1904 by the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, would also spur its displacement of Britain as the predominant investor in Latin America — a process largely completed by the end of the Great War.

In Germany, Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck revised his initial dislike of colonies (which he had seen as burdensome and useless), partly because he was under pressure for colonial expansion matching that of the other European states, but also under the mistaken notion that Germany's entry into the colonial scramble could press Britain into conceding to broader German strategic ambitions.

Japan's development after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 followed the Western lead in industrialization and militarism, enabling her to gain control of Taiwan in 1895, Korea in 1910 and then a sphere of influence in Manchuria (1905), following the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Japan's colonial boom was in part a response to the actions of more established powers, and her expansionism drew on the harnessing of traditional Japanese values to more modern aspirations for great-power status; not until the 1930s was Japan to become a net exporter of capital.

Social implications of the New Imperialism Era

The New Imperialism gave rise to new social views of colonialism. Rudyard Kipling, for instance, urged the United States to "Take up the White Man's burden" of bringing European civilization to the other peoples of the world, regardless of whether these "other peoples" wanted this civilization or not. This part of the white mans burden truly exemplifies Britain's colonization's of other countries, "Take up the White Man's burden, In patience to abide, To veil the threat of terror, And check the show of pride; By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain To seek another's profit, And work another's gain." It shows Britain's pride when it invaded other countries and how after they took over, Britain used up all of the natural resources to benefit them and not the other country. While Social Darwinism became popular throughout Western Europe and the United States, the paternalistic French-style "civilizing mission" (In French: mission civilisatrice) appealed to many European statesmen both in and outside of France. Despite apparent benevolence existing in the notion of the "White Man's Burden", the unintended consequences of imperialism might greatly outweigh the potential benefits. Governments become increasingly paternalistic at home and neglected the individual liberties of their citizens. Military spending expanded, usually leading to an "imperial overreach", and imperialism created clients of ruling elites abroad that were brutal and corrupt. Consequently, the corrupt elites were then able to consolidate power through imperial rents and impede social change and economic development that ran against their ambitions. Furthermore, "nation building" oftentimes can create cultural sentiments of racism and xenophobia.[6]

Many of Europe's major elites also found advantages in formal, overseas expansion: large financial and industrial monopolies wanted imperial support to protect their overseas investments against competition and domestic political tensions abroad; bureaucrats wanted and sought government offices; military officers desired promotion; and the traditional but waning landed gentries sought increased profits for their investments, formal titles, and high office. Such special interests perpetuate empire building today and throughout history.[6]

Observing the rise of trade unionism, socialism, and other protest movements during an era of mass society in both Europe and later North America, elites sought to use imperial jingoism to co-opt the support of part of the industrial working class. The new mass media promoted jingoism in the Spanish-American War (1898), the Second Boer War (1899–1902), and the Boxer Rebellion (1900).

The notion of rule over tropical lands commanded widespread acceptance among metropolitan populations: even among those who associated imperial colonization with oppression and exploitation. For example, the 1904 Congress of the Socialist International concluded that the colonial peoples should be taken in hand by future European socialist governments and led by them into eventual independence.

New Imperialism in Asia

India

In the 17th century, the expanding British arrived in India and there, after taking a small portion of land, became known as the British East India Company. The British completely took over most of the country of India, a process starting with Bengal in 1757 and ending in Punjab in 1849, leaving out certain princely states. This was aided by the decline of the Mughal Empire in India which left a power vacuum since the death of Aurangzeb and the increased British forces in India because of conflicts with France. A kind of ship called clipper ships were engineered and their larger sails were able to catch the wind and cut the trip to India from Europe in half from 6 months to 3 months. The British also laid cables on the floor of the ocean allowing telegrams to be sent from India and China. In 1818, the British controlled most of India and began imposing their ideas and ways on India but it wasn’t really a kind of take over. The British were working together with Indian officials. A few of these new impositions were different succession laws that allowed the British to take over a state with no successor and gain its land and armies, new taxes and monopolistic control of industry. The different Hindu and Muslim Sepoys triggered the Indian Mutiny which spread to become the First Indian War of Independence. Following this war administrative functions were transferred from the chartered British East India Company to the British government in 1858.

After this revolt was brutally suppressed by the British, India came under the direct control of the British crown. After the British had gained more control over India, they began changing around the financial state of India. Previously Europe had to pay for Indian textiles and spices in bullion. With political control, Britain directed farmers to grow cash crops for the company for exports to Europe while India became a market for textiles from Britain. In addition it collected huge revenues from land rent and taxes on its acquired monopoly on salt production. Indian weavers were replaced by new spinning and weaving machines and Indian food crops were replaced by cash crops like cotton and tea causing widespread famines.[7]

The British also began connecting Indian cities by railroad and telegraph to make travel and communication easier for the British in India and began building its irrigation system for increasing agricultural production. When Western education was introduced in India, Indians were quite influenced by it, but the glaring inequalities between the British ideals of governance and their treatment of Indians became clear. In response to racist treatment, the educated Indians and the ones that knew such inequality was occurring decided to establish the Indian National Congress that demanded that Indians be recognized as equals with the British and that they have the right to govern themselves.

John Robert Seeley a Cambridge Professor of History said "Our acquisition of India was made blindly. Nothing great that has ever been done by englishmen was done so unintentionally or accidentally as the conquest of India". According to him the political control of India was not a conquest in the usual sense because it was not an act of a state.

British colonies in Asia

The new administrative arrangement, crowned with Queen Victoria's proclamation as Empress of India in 1876, effectively replaced the rule of a monopolistic enterprise with that of a trained civil service headed by graduates of Britain's top universities. The administration retained and increased the monopolies held by the company. The India Salt Act of 1882 included regulations enforcing a government monopoly on the collection and manufacture of salt and in 1923 a bill was passed doubling the salt tax.[8]

After taking control of much of India, the British expanded further into Singapore, Burma and Malaya (modern day Malaysia) and these became further sources of trade and raw materials for British goods. They also went into Afghanistan and Tibet to counter Russian expansion.

Dutch colonies in Asia

Formal colonisation of the Dutch East Indies (now: Indonesia) commenced at the dawn of the 19th century when the Dutch state took possession of all VOC assets. Before that time the Dutch East India Company (VOC) merchants were in principle just another trading power among many, establishing trading posts and settlements (colonies) in strategic places around the archipelago. The Dutch gradually extended their small nation’s sovereignty over most of the islands in the East Indies. Dutch expansion paused for several years during an interregnum of British rule between 1806 and 1816, when the Dutch Republic was occupied by the French forces of Napoleon. The Dutch government exiled in England, ceded rule of all its colonies to Great Britain. The Governor of the Dutch East Indies however fought the British before surrendering the colony. He was replaced by Raffles.[9]

The Dutch East Indies became the prize possession of the Dutch Empire. It was not the typical settler colony founded through massive emigration from the mother countries (such as the USA or Australia) and hardly involved displacement of the indigenous islanders.[10] Neither was it a plantation colony build on the import of slaves (such as Haiti or Jamaica) or a pure trade post colony (such as Singapore or Macau). It was more of an expansion of the existing chain of VOC trading posts. Instead of mass emigration from the homeland, the sizeable indigenous populations, were controlled through effective political manipulation supported by military force. Servitude of the indigenous masses was enabled through a structure of indirect governance, keeping existing indigenous rulers in place[11] and using the Indo Eurasian population as an intermediary buffer. Being one of the smallest nations in the world it was in fact impossible for the Netherlands to even attempt to establish a typical settler colony.

In 1869 British anthropologist Alfred Russel Wallace described the colonial governing structure in his book "The Malay Archipelago"[12]:

"The mode of government now adopted in Java is to retain the whole series of native rulers, from the village chief up to princes, who, under the name of Regents, are the heads of districts about the size of a small English county. With each Regent is placed a Dutch Resident, or Assistant Resident, who is considered to be his "elder brother," and whose "orders" take the form of "recommendations," which are, however, implicitly obeyed. Along with each Assistant Resident is a Controller, a kind of inspector of all the lower native rulers, who periodically visits every village in the district, examines the proceedings of the native courts, hears complaints against the head-men or other native chiefs, and superintends the Government plantations."

French colonies in Asia

France took over Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1880s; during the following decade, France completed her Indochinese empire with the annexation of Laos, leaving the kingdom of Siam (now Thailand) with an uneasy independence as a neutral buffer between British and French-ruled lands.

China and New Imperialism

A shocked mandarin in Manchu robes in the back, with Queen Victoria (United Kingdom), Wilhelm II (Germany), Nicholas II (Russia), Marianne (France), and Emperor Meiji (Japan) discussing how to cut up a pie with Chine ("China" in French) written on it.

In 1839, China found itself fighting the First Opium War with Britain. China was defeated, and in 1842 agreed to the provisions of the Treaty of Nanjing. Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain, and certain ports, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, were opened to British trade and residence. In 1856, the Second Opium War broke out. The Chinese were again defeated, and now forced to the terms of the 1858 Treaty of Tientsin and the 1860 Convention of Peking. The treaty opened new ports to trade and allowed foreigners to travel in the interior. Missionaries gained the right to propagate Christianity—another means of Western penetration. The United States and Russia obtained the same prerogatives in separate treaties.

Toward the end of the 19th century, China appeared on the way to territorial dismemberment and economic vassalage—the fate of India's rulers that played out much earlier. Several provisions of these treaties caused long-standing bitterness and humiliation among the Chinese: extraterritoriality (meaning that in a dispute with a Chinese person, a Westerner had the right to be tried in a court under the laws of his own country), customs regulation, and the right to station foreign warships in Chinese waters.

The rise of Japan since the Meiji Restoration as an imperial power led to further subjugation of China. In a dispute over China's longstanding claim of rule in Korea, war broke out between China and Japan, resulting in humiliating defeat for the Chinese. By the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), China was forced to recognise effective Japanese rule over Korea, and Taiwan was ceded to Japan until its recovery in 1945 at the end of the WWII by the Republic of China.

In 1897, taking advantage of the murder of two missionaries, Germany demanded and was given a set of exclusive mining and railroad rights around Jiaozhou Bay in Shandong province. In 1898 Russia obtained access to Dairen and Port Arthur and the right to build a railroad across Manchuria, thereby achieving complete domination over a large portion of northeast China. The United Kingdom, France, and Japan also received a number of concessions later that year.

At this time, much of China was divided up into "spheres of influence": Germany dominated the Shandong peninsula and the Huang He (Hwang-Ho) valley; Russia dominated the Liaodong Peninsula and Manchuria; the United Kingdom dominated Weihaiwei and the Yangtze Valley; whereas France dominated the Guangzhou Bay and several other southern provinces neighboring its colony in Vietnam.

China continued to be divided up into these spheres until the United States, which had no sphere of influence, grew alarmed at the possibility of its businessmen being excluded from Chinese markets. In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay asked the major powers to agree to a policy of equal trading privileges. In 1900, several powers agreed to the U.S.-backed scheme, giving rise to the "Open Door" policy, denoting freedom of commercial access and non-annexation of Chinese territory. In any event, it was in the European powers' interest to have a weak but independent Chinese government. The privileges of the Europeans in China were guaranteed in the form of treaties with the Qing government. In the event that the Qing totally collapsed, each power risked losing the privileges that it had negotiated.

The erosion of Chinese sovereignty contributed to a spectacular anti-foreign outbreak in June 1900, when the "Boxers" (properly the society of the "righteous and harmonious fists") attacked foreign legations in Beijing, provoking a rare display of unity among the powers, whose troops landed at Tianjin and marched on the capital, which they took on August 14. Troops from the Eight-Nation Alliance then looted and occupied Beijing for several months. German forces were particularly severe in exacting revenge for the killing of their ambassador, while Russia tightened its hold on Manchuria in the northeast until its crushing defeat by Japan in the war of 1904-1905.

Although extraterritorial jurisdiction was abandoned by the United Kingdom and the United States in 1943, foreign political control of parts of China only finally ended with the incorporation of Hong Kong and the small Portuguese territory of Macau into the People's Republic of China in 1997 and 1999 respectively.

Mainland Chinese historians refer to this period as the Century of humiliation.

New Imperialism in Africa

Between 1885 and 1914, Britain brought nearly 30% of Africa's population under its control, to 15% for France, 9% for Germany, 7% for Belgium and 1% for Italy: Nigeria alone contributed 15 million subjects to Britain, more than in the whole of French West Africa, or the entire German colonial empire. The only regions not under European control in 1914 were Liberia and Ethiopia.[13]

British colonies in Africa

Britain's 1882 formal occupation of Egypt (triggered by concern over the Suez Canal) contributed to a preoccupation over securing control of Nile, leading to the conquest of neighboring Sudan in 1896-1898, which in turn led to confrontation with a French military expedition at Fashoda in September 1898. In 1899, Britain set out to complete its takeover of the future South Africa, which it had begun in 1814 with the annexation of the Cape Colony, by invading the gold-rich Afrikaner republics of Transvaal and the neighboring Orange Free State. The chartered British South Africa Company had already seized the land to the north, renamed Rhodesia after its head, the Cape tycoon Cecil Rhodes.

British gains in southern and East Africa prompted Rhodes and Alfred Milner, Britain's High Commissioner in South Africa, to urge a "Cape to Cairo" empire: linked by rail, the strategically important Canal would be firmly connected to the mineral-rich South, though Belgian control of the Belgian Congo Free State and German control of German East Africa prevented such an outcome until the end of World War I, when Great Britain acquired the latter territory.

Britain's quest for southern Africa and their diamonds led to complicated social complications and fallouts that lasted for years. To work for their prosperous company, British businessmen hired both white and black South Africans. But when it came to jobs the white South Africans received the higher paid and less dangerous ones, leaving the black South Africans to risk their lives down in the mines for limited pay. This process of separating the two groups of South Africans, whites and blacks, was the beginning of segregation between the two that lasted until 1989.

Paradoxically, the United Kingdom, a staunch advocate of free trade, emerged in 1914 with not only the largest overseas empire, thanks to its long-standing presence in India, but also the greatest gains in the conquest of Africa, reflecting its advantageous position at its inception.

Belgian colonies in Africa

Up until 1876, Belgium had no colonial presence in Africa. It was then that its king, Leopold II created the International African Society. Under the façade of being an international scientific and philanthropic association, it was actually a private holding company of Leopold’s. He hired Henry Morton Stanley to explore and colonize the Congo River basin area of equatorial Africa in order to capitalize on the plentiful resources such as ivory, rubber, diamonds, and metals. Up until this point, Africa was known as “the Dark Continent” because rapids on the Congo River had previously made exploration of this area impossible. Over the next few years, Stanley overpowered and made treaties with over 450 native tribes, acquiring him over 905,000 square miles (2,340,000 km2) of land, nearly 67 times the size of Belgium, in the sovereignty of King Leopold II.

Neither the Belgian government, nor the Belgian people had any interest in imperialism at the time, and the land came to be personally owned by King Leopold II. At the Berlin Conference in 1884, he was allowed to have land his own personal nation, called the Congo Free State. The other European countries at the conference allowed this to happen on the conditions that he suppress the East African slave trade, promote humanitarian policies, guarantee free trade, and encourage missions to Christianize and educate the people of the Congo. However, Leopold II’s primary focus was to make a large profit on the natural resources, particularly ivory and rubber. In order to make this profit, he passed several cruel decrees that can be considered to be genocide. He forced the natives to supply him with rubber and ivory without any sort of payment in return. Their wives and children were held hostage until the workers returned with enough rubber or ivory to fill their quota, and if they couldn’t, their family would be killed. The workers themselves also might be tortured, flogged, or mutilated. When villages refused, they were burned down, the children of the village murdered and the men had their hands cut off. These policies led to uprisings that were feeble compared to the European military and technological might. They opposed the forced labor in other ways, by fleeing into the forests to seek refuge or setting the rubber forests on fire preventing the Europeans from harvesting the rubber.

These rebellions were brutally crushed by the FP (Force Publique) which was composed of all whites; a mixture of Belgian soldiers and mercenaries. They went into the forests where refugees had escaped and killed them mercilessly. In fact, they would bring back a hand for every man they killed to show they were not wasting ammunition. If the FP missed a shot or hunted game, they would cut the hands of innocent living people in order to match the number of bullets used to the number of hands brought back. This genocide was so widespread and effervescent, that the population of the area actually decreased from approximately 20-30 million people to 9 million people during his reign. It is estimated that 10-15 million people lost their lives. King Leopold II sure did make his profits and had a 700% profit ratio for the rubber he took from Congo and exported. He used propaganda to keep the other European nations at bay, for he broke almost all of the parts of the agreement he made at the Berlin Conference. For example, he had some Congolese pygmies sing and dance at the 1897 World Fair in Belgium, showing how he was supposedly civilizing and educating the natives of the Congo. After the Belgian government found out about the atrocities that were being committed in the Congo, they annexed the land and renamed it Belgian Congo, removing it from the personal power of their king, Leopold II. Of all the colonies that were conquered during the wave of New Imperialism, the people of the Congo River Basin suffered the worst treatment by their oppressors compared to other colonized peoples.[14][15][16]

Imperial rivalries

The extension of European control over Africa and Asia added a further dimension to the rivalry and mutual suspicion which characterized international diplomacy in the decades preceding World War I. France's seizure of Tunisia (1881) initiated fifteen years of tension with Italy, which had hoped to take the country and which retaliated by allying with Germany and waging a decade-long tariff war with France. Britain's takeover of Egypt a year later caused a marked cooling of her relations with France.

The most striking conflicts of the era were the Spanish American War of 1898 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, each signaling the advent of a new imperial great power; the United States and Japan, respectively. The Fashoda incident of 1898 represented the worst Anglo-French crisis in decades, but France's buckling in the face of British demands foreshadowed improved relations as the two countries set about resolving their overseas claims.

British policy in South Africa and German actions in the Far East contributed to dramatic policy shifts, which in the 1900s, aligned hitherto isolationist Britain first with Japan as an ally, and then with France and Russia in the looser Entente. German efforts to break the Entente by challenging French hegemony in Morocco resulted in the Tangier Crisis of 1905 and the Agadir Crisis of 1911, adding to tension and anti-German sentiment in the years preceding World War I and II.

Motivations

The British government (as well as the other European imperialist governments) gave many excuses to the public for the New Imperialism strategy. However, there were often underlying motivations behind what the government said.

Humanitarianism

One of the biggest motivations behind New Imperialism was the idea of humanitarianism and "civilizing" the "lower" class people in Africa and in other undeveloped places. This was a religious motive for many Christian missionaries, in attempt to save the souls of the "uncivilized" people, and of the idea that Christians and the people of the United Kingdom were morally superior. Most of the missionaries that supported imperialism did so because they felt the only true religion was their own. Similarly, the Roman Catholic missionaries opposed the British missionaries because the British missionaries were Protestant. At times, however, imperialism did help the people of the countries being invaded because the missionaries ended up stopping some of the slavery in some areas. Therefore, Europeans claimed that they were only there because they wanted to protect the weaker tribal groups they conquered. The missionaries and other leaders suggested that they should stop such practices as cannibalism, child marriage, and other "savage" things. This humanitarian ideal was described in poems such as the "White Man's Burden" and other literature. Oftentimes, the humanitarianism was sincere, but with misguided choices. Although some imperialists were trying to be sincere with the notion of humanitarianism, their choices might not have been best for the areas they were conquering and the natives living there.[17]

Dutch Ethical Policy

The Dutch Ethical Policy refers to the dominant reformist and liberal political character of colonial policy in the Dutch East Indies during the 20th century. In 1901, the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina announced that the Netherlands accepted an ethical responsibility for the welfare of their colonial subjects. This announcement was a sharp contrast with the former official doctrine that Indonesia was mainly a wingewest (region for making profit). It marked the start of modern development policy; whereas other colonial powers usually talked of a civilizing mission, which mainly involved spreading their culture to colonized peoples.

The Dutch Ethical Policy (Dutch: ‘Ethische Politiek’) emphasised improvement in material living conditions. The policy suffered, however, from serious underfunding, inflated expectations and lack of acceptance in the Dutch colonial establishment, and it had largely ceased to exist by the onset of the Great Depression in 1930.[18][19] It did however create an educated indigenous elite able to articulate and eventually establish independence from the Netherlands.

Theories

The accumulation theory adopted by Karl Kautsky, John A. Hobson and popularized by Lenin centered on the accumulation of surplus capital during and after the Industrial Revolution: restricted opportunities at home, the argument goes, drove financial interests to seek more profitable investments in less-developed lands with lower labor costs, unexploited raw materials and little competition. Some have criticized Hobson's analysis, arguing that it fails to explain colonial expansion on the part of less industrialized nations with little surplus capital, such as Italy, or the great powers of the next century  — the United States and Russia  — which were in fact net borrowers of foreign capital. Opponents of Hobson's accumulation theory often point to frequent cases when military and bureaucratic costs of occupation exceeded financial returns. In Africa (exclusive of what would become the Union of South Africa in 1909) the amount of capital investment by Europeans was relatively small before and after the 1880s, and the companies involved in tropical African commerce exerted limited political influence.

The World-Systems theory approach of Immanuel Wallerstein sees imperialism as part of a general, gradual extension of capital investment from the "core" of the industrial countries to a less developed "periphery." Protectionism and formal empire were the major tools of "semi-peripheral," newly industrialized states, such as Germany, seeking to usurp Britain's position at the "core" of the global capitalist system.

Echoing Wallerstein's global perspective to an extent, imperial historian Bernard Porter views Britain's adoption of formal imperialism as a symptom and an effect of her relative decline in the world, and not of strength: "Stuck with outmoded physical plants and outmoded forms of business organization, [Britain] now felt the less favorable effects of being the first to modernize."

Other Readings

  • Ankerl, Guy: Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. INU PRESS, Geneva, 2000. ISBN 2-88155-004-5.
  • Recent imperial historians: Porter, P.J. Cain and A.G Hopkins contest Hobson's conspiratorial overtones and "reductionism," but do not reject the influence of "the City's" financial interests.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Corn Law." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 10 Nov. 2010. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/137814/Corn-Law>.
  2. ^ "Franco-German War." Encyclopædia Britannica.2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 10 Nov. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/216971/Franco-German-War>.
  3. ^ Kindleberger, C. P., (1961), “Foreign Trade and Economic Growth: Lessons from Britain and France, 1850-1913”, The Economic History Review, Vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 289-305.
  4. ^ Porter, B., (1996), The Lion’s Share: A Short History of British Imperialism 1850-1995, (London: Longman), pp.118ff.
  5. ^ Lambert, Tim. “England in the 19th Century.” Localhistories.org. 2008. 9 Nov. 2010 <http://www.localhistories.org/19thcentengland.html>.
  6. ^ a b Coyne, Christopher J. and Steve Davies. "Empire: Public Goods and Bads" (Jan 2007). [1]
  7. ^ Late Victorian Holocausts
  8. ^ History of the British salt tax in India
  9. ^ Bongenaar K.E.M. ‘De ontwikkeling van het zelfbesturend landschap in Nederlandsch-Indië.’ (Publisher: Walburg Press) ISBN 90-5730-267-5
  10. ^ With a notable and dramatic exception in the island of Banda during the VOC era. See: Hanna, Willard A. ‘Indonesian Banda: Colonialism and its Aftermath in the Nutmeg Islands.’ (1991).
  11. ^ This strategy was already established by the VOC, which independently acted as a semi-souvereign state within the Dutch state. See: Boxer, C.R. ‘The Dutch Seaborne Empire: 1600-1800.’ (London, 1965) and [2]
  12. ^ Wallace, Alfred Russel (1869) 'The Malay Archipelago', (Publisher: Harper, 1869.) Chapter VII [3]
  13. ^ Historical Map of Africa
  14. ^ Simon Katzenellenbogen "Congo, Democratic Republic of the" Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World. Ed. Peter N. Stearns. © Oxford University Press 2008. Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World: (e-reference edition). Oxford University Press. 18 November 2010 http://www.oxford-modernworld.com/entry?entry=t254.e352
  15. ^ Schimmer, Russell. "Belgian Congo." Genocide Studies Program. Yale University, 2010. Web. 11 Nov. 2010. <http://www.yale.edu/gsp/colonial/belgian_congo/ index.html>
  16. ^ • Gondola, Ch. Didier. "Congo (Kinshasa)." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.
  17. ^ Winks, Robin W. "Imperialism." Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Online, 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.
  18. ^ Robert Cribb, 'Development policy in the early 20th century', in Jan-Paul Dirkse, Frans Hüsken and Mario Rutten, eds, Development and social welfare: Indonesia’s experiences under the New Order (Leiden: Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 1993), pp. 225-245.
  19. ^ Ricklefs, M.C. (1991). A History of Modern Indonesia since c.1300. London: MacMillan. p. 151. ISBN 0-33-579690-X. 

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