Talk:New Imperialism/Merge

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Among the causes for this emerging European expansionism were the demoralizing and fierce Old World feudal conflicts, which caused great imbalances of power, and the breakdown of the Concert of Europe. The creation by war of new nation-states, like Germany, Italy, and Serbo.. would conflict with existing ethnic boundaries and cause competitive tensions that would, in decades later, become manifest in the World Wars. The Long Depression (1873-1896) is thought to have played a catalytic role in convincing British policymakers that colonialism, captive markets, and territorial expansion were answers to a then-growing economic crisis in their respective territories.

Britain before the New Imperialism was the world's first and only major industrialized power, and its hegemonious "Pax Britannica" was a largely unchallenged. The gospel of free trade and laissez faire defined Britain's economic relations with the outside world between 1815 and 1870; the ideology of laissez faire, perhaps influenced by the egalitarian American Revolution, disagreed with the possession of colonies, claiming that the cost of defending them was far outweighed their advantages.

British policy at the time instead preferred to open the outside world to trade its industry; being far more advanced, Britain could afford to name its own price for its technology. But the New Imperialism changed all of that. While before, only industrialists had argued for imperial colonialism, soon others had begun to support it as well, the apparent success of American experient to bring so quickly join the industrial revolution, may have been seen as proof that colonialism held promise for prosperous settlement, away from the conflicts and hardships of the Old World. Soon even some trade union leaders and European socialists grow to be enthusiastic about colonial expansion.

However, by the middle of the nineteenth century, other nations, such as Germany, the United States (US), Japan, and Italy, began to industrialize. To compete with British industry, these nations placed protective tariffs on imports. During the 1870s and 1880s, the free commerce of Pax Britannica waned as tariff walls rose within the US, Russia, France, and Germany. Meanwhile, as the industrialized nations gradually began to produce an increasing surplus of manufactured goods, Chinese and Latin American industry was stimulated by foreign capital investment.

At the same time, other nations began to enter the industrial revolution; in particular, the United States, Japan, Italy, and Germany. To compete with British industry, these nations placed protective tariffs on imports. The free commerce of the early nineteenth century era of Pax Britannica waned as tariff walls rose in the United States, Russia, France, and Germany in the 1870s and 1880s. Great Britain and its competitors—now producing a surplus of manufactured goods—began to search for trade outlets in captive markets; the ensuing Long Depression of 1873-1896 convinced the great powers' most influential policymakers that colonial empire was the solution to the problem.


Though lawmakers often used economic arguments to explain this resurgence of imperialist doctrine; it also had support from explorers, religious leaders, and the military -- who generally supported the movement for scientific, cultural, and strategic reasons. Even some trade unions and socialists were supportive of the process.

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The scramble for overseas territory sprung just as much from the international rivalry between European states, stemming from problems of the balance of power in Europe that were extended abroad, as from their economic competition. Following the Franco-Prussian War, the breakdown of the Concert of Europe and the creation of nation-states in Germany and Italy heightened aggressive national rivalry, in which nations began to secure colonies according to what they believed to be a strategic necessity. Such competition resulted in increasing great power tensions and laid the groundwork for the start of the First World War.


Comments[edit]

Sv,

I understand that you're still working on the merger (BTW, thanks once again for intervening), but perhaps the following questions and comments will be helpful. I copied and pasted your draft below, and inserted my comments throughout the draft. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)


Among the causes for this emerging European expansionism were the demoralizing and fierce Old World feudal conflicts, which caused great imbalances of power, and the breakdown of the Concert of Europe.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Old World feudal conflicts." Is this a reference to the Revolutions of 1830, the Revolutions of 1848, the German Wars of Unification, and the Franco-Prussian War? These definitely aren't the feudal, dynastic struggles of the Middle Ages. These trends are characterized as the workings of European modernization, if anything, as "bourgeois" or "capitalist" revolutions (I don't know if it's particularly helpful to isolate these individual wars and revolutions from a dense web of activity, in order to describe them as "bourgeois" or "capitalist," but that's another matter.) 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Well, you may be breaking this down a bit too much for analysis. Please see American exceptionalism#In historical context. In there I use the same generalization of the "Old World" as a place of long established cultures, where conflict, feudalism, and aritocratic rule make things somewhat miserable. From that general perspective, the New World became an instant legend, and the presence of this legend inspired to some degree the development of rebellious, anti-aristocratic and egalitarian views back home. Because this article deals with (what I think is) a particular aspect of the above; namely 'the emergence of a philosophy of European and American imperialism;' the difficulty of fighting profitable wars in the Old World, combined with the means of industrialization (Dark ages, nobody could do much), and added to that the legendary American expansionism; caused this imperial idea to emerge. I agree that rather than view the issue as a specific issue of event and causality, attributing to one event any supreme catalytic power, Im generalizing for the time being the issues to explain the general historical context. Old world is meant to be a broad generalization -relative to the New World; it doesnt quite have the same usefulness here, because the context is more confined to Europe. In any case, I think that we can draw a link between the expansionism of "sea to shining sea", and the full-steam (literally) colonialism of Europe.-SV

The creation by war of new nation-states, like Germany, Italy, and Serbo.. would conflict with existing ethnic boundaries and cause competitive tensions that would, in decades later, become manifest in the World Wars.

I'm not sure what the reference to "existing ethnic boundaries" is doing in this sentence. We certainly do see the rise of many disparate forms of nationalism in Europe between the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the beginning of the Great War in 1914 (e.g., Garibaldi, Mazzini, and later Bismarck and Cavour); and nationalism's relationship with imperialism is very complex, depending on the context. But we're not necessarily dealing with ethnic conflict. Ethnic conflict and separatism was latent in the dynastic, multinational land empires (Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman Turkey), but Turkey, Austria, and Russia were not significant participants in the scramble for overseas colonial expansionism in the era of the New Imperialism. (Nationalism is not necessarily ethnonationalism, of course) 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I see. I was using the large brush of the most general use of the term "ethnic". If you think that Im at least onto something with the structure, feel free to add finer details. Note I didnt know what to call the Serbian ethnic states of the time. The point is; explain that this was yet another mark in the negative column for Europeans. Hardline, established governments, etc etc etc. Its not a peasants eye view; but I think that to attribute causality of events to leaders, ignoring the sways of the public, is to see the waves but ignore the ocean. -SV

The Long Depression (1873-1896) is thought to have played a catalytic role in convincing British policymakers that colonialism, captive markets, and territorial expansion were answers to a then-growing economic crisis in their respective territories.

Rather than asserting that it is thought to have played a catalytic role in convincing British statesmen, we should just make a statement of that role for the sake of clarity. [BTW, the sentence should not just make reference to British policymakers, but also policymakers from continental Europe (e.g., Jules Ferry, Leopold II of Belgium, Francesco Crispi, and even Otto von Bismarck, who was emphatically skeptical of overseas colonial expansionism as late as 1871).] It is an established fact that the Long Depression convinced some business and government leaders, such as Ferry, Disraeli, Leopold, Crispi, and Bismarck, that searching for trade outlets abroad and building colonial empires would solve the problems rooted in shrinking European markets. It wasn't the sole factor, of course; but stating that the Long Depression was a factor doesn't imply that it was the sole factor. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Britain before the New Imperialism was the world's first and only major industrialized power, and its hegemonious "Pax Britannica" was a largely unchallenged. The gospel of free trade and laissez faire defined Britain's economic relations with the outside world between 1815 and 1870; the ideology of laissez faire, perhaps influenced by the egalitarian American Revolution, disagreed with the possession of colonies, claiming that the cost of defending them was far outweighed their advantages.

(1) Hegemonic, not hegemonious. (2) I'm not sure if why the text is stating that this was "perhaps" influenced by the American Revolution; these ideas were certainly influenced by the American Revolution. Richard Cobden and Adam Smith, and the liberal theorists writing after the American Revolution asserted outright that colonies spawned by the mercantilist system were wasteful, expensive in men and money, a burden to the taxpayer, affording no reciprocal economic benefit, for trade would continue with them whether they were under British political control or not. They explicitly argued that this was the main lesson learnt from the loss of the thirteen colonies. (3) I don't understand why the word "egalitarian" is relevant preceding American Revolution. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

British policy at the time instead preferred to open the outside world to trade its industry; being far more advanced, Britain could afford to name its own price for its technology.

Even during the age of Pax Britannica, Britain was not immune to the pressures of price deflation and declining demand, of course. Rather that saying that Britain "could afford to name its own price for its technology," I think that it behooves us to stat that as the world's most technologically advanced nation, Britain could produce manufactured goods so efficiently and cheaply that its goods could often undersell locally manufactured goods in other markets throughout the world, assuming stable political conditions and open markets. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

But the New Imperialism changed all of that. While before, only industrialists had argued for imperial colonialism…

Not necessarily. Indeed, in the mid-Victorian era industrialists were often the most emphatic critics of formal colonialism; after all, the middle classes (not the upper classes) were the major taxpayers. (The capitalists of this age were indeed not too different from those of our age; they typically aren't fans of "big government now," save for government contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Halliburton-- although they don't like to admit it.) Industrialists were often the Cobenites in the mid-nineteenth century. At the time, they were often the supporters of the imperialism of free trade. The Cobenites maintained that the possession of colonies were detrimental to peace, because it provoked jealousies among other European powers and wars within their frontiers. Moreover, they argued that colonies were developed in the age of mercantilism only to enable the English upper classes (aristocrats-- not the bourgeoisie) to find jobs for their younger sons as governors and generals. At any rate, we must be careful here. It is often hard to characterize the position of a class when it comes to European imperialism in a specific place and time; and it's all but impossible to characterize the position of a class without contextualizing the temporal and spatial confines. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

soon others had begun to support it as well, the apparent success of American experient to bring so quickly join the industrial revolution, may have been seen as proof that colonialism held promise for prosperous settlement, away from the conflicts and hardships of the Old World.

[I reconsidered this response after writing it. My second response can be found below. 172 11:46, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)] I'm failing to understand this point about the American experiment. There is already a sentence in the article stating the following: "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." Is this making the same point as what you're stating above? (A number of authors have written that the nineteenth century ruling classes diverted the attention of the masses from their wretched conditions by offering them the exciting diversion of adventure and glory in imperial enterprises.) But you're not really dealing with memories of the American Revolution, but rather the far, far fresher memories of the Revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune, and rise of the SDP in Germany, for example. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Oh, I'm starting to reconsider my response. My first response was based on the assumption that this was a reference to the revolutionary pressures driving imperialistic expansion. I now see that this is an allusion to population pressure as a motive for imperialistic expansion. This has indeed received some attention in the historical literature. (In the middle of the eighteenth century the population of Europe numbered around 140 million; by 1914 this number had increased to roughly 460 million, I believe. And some European statesmen, particularly in Germany and Italy, thought of the acquisition of new colonies as a means whereby their surplus population could be settled in sparsely settled lands without escaping the political control of the motherland.) So, perhaps it does warrant mentioning that millions of Germans, Britons, and Italians, hearing that land was more plentiful and jobs easier to secure overseas, left Europe and migrated abroad. However, I hesitated to go into detail about this in the article, as the populating of the successful settlement colonies (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and Algeria) was more strongly associated with earlier eras of expansion (by that I mean mercantilism and the period framed by the American Revolution and the rise of the New Imperialism, when Britain made a great deal of concessions to "home rule" in its remaining white settler colonies). Also, few Europeans migrated to the tropical colonies acquired by Europe during the era of New Imperialism; the vast majority migrated to the United States and the temperate regions of Latin America, especially South America's Southern Cone. 172 11:46, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Soon even some trade union leaders and European socialists grow to be enthusiastic about colonial expansion.

However, by the middle of the nineteenth century, other nations, such as Germany, the United States (US), Japan, and Italy, began to industrialize. To compete with British industry, these nations placed protective tariffs on imports. During the 1870s and 1880s, the free commerce of Pax Britannica waned as tariff walls rose within the US, Russia, France, and Germany.

Meanwhile, as the industrialized nations gradually began to produce an increasing surplus of manufactured goods, Chinese and Latin American industry was stimulated by foreign capital investment.

As I remarked to Lir earlier, I'm not sure what this reference to China and Latin America is doing here. Investments within Western Europe and North America on the whole assisted and accelerated economic advancement, helping to create the costly infrastructure (such as railways and other public works) for development nations that would in time repay these debts. By contrast, investments in more underdeveloped areas (much of Latin America, Manchu China, the Russian and Ottoman Empires, and the overseas colonial territories) that lacked both the expertise and the power to direct the capital flow, served to colonize rather than develop them, destroying native industries and creating dangerous economic and political pressures that would, in time, produce what social scientists now call "the North/South divide" and demands for a new international economic order (e.g., the Russian and Chinese Revolutions and decolonization following the Second World War). At any rate, I think that Lir's sentence can be replaced with one accounting for how New Imperialism forged the international political and economic system that we know today, and areas like East Asia and Latin America found themselves in a subordinate position in an international division of labor. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

At the same time, other nations began to enter the industrial revolution; in particular, the United States, Japan, Italy, and Germany. To compete with British industry, these nations placed protective tariffs on imports. The free commerce of the early nineteenth century era of Pax Britannica waned as tariff walls rose in the United States, Russia, France, and Germany in the 1870s and 1880s. Great Britain and its competitors—now producing a surplus of manufactured goods—began to search for trade outlets in captive markets; the ensuing Long Depression of 1873-1896 convinced the great powers' most influential policymakers that colonial empire was the solution to the problem

Though lawmakers often used economic arguments to explain this resurgence of imperialist doctrine; it also had support from explorers, religious leaders, and the military -- who generally supported the movement for scientific, cultural, and strategic reasons. Even some trade unions and socialists were supportive of the process.

I have a bit of a bone to pick with the reference to scientific, cultural, and strategic motivations among the certain groups mentioned. The way it's written seems to imply that 'scientific, cultural, religious, and strategic' motives aren't 'economic motives' and the other way around. Many of these different 'motives' are flip sides of the same coin. I mean, e.g., a missionary could be motivated economically and a financier could be passionately committed to his "white man's burden." I think that this matter is best addressed not with a statement associating certain motives with certain groups, but rather with this somewhat less suggestive (and reductionistic) list of examples that appears later in the article: "Many of Europe's major elites also found advantages in formal, overseas expansion: mammoth monopolies wanted imperial support to secure overseas investments against competition and domestic political tensions abroad; bureaucrats wanted and sought offices, military officers desired promotion, and the traditional but waning landed gentries sought formal titles and high office." 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The scramble for overseas territory sprung just as much from the international rivalry between European states, stemming from problems of the balance of power in Europe that were extended abroad, as from their economic competition. Following the Franco-Prussian War, the breakdown of the Concert of Europe and the creation of nation-states in Germany and Italy heightened aggressive national rivalry, in which nations began to secure colonies according to what they believed to be a strategic necessity. Such competition resulted in increasing great power tensions and laid the groundwork for the start of the First World War.

As I said to Lir earlier, I'm still not sure about why a general overview is needed at all. There is a separate article on the Rise of the New Imperialism, which is summarized in the New Imperialism article itself. I'm still under the impression that everything articulated in both Lir's version of the general overview and mine is covered in the introduction and the section on the rise of the New Imperialism. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
BTW, I neglected to mention this earlier. At the very beginning of the text the draft mentions the "causes for this emerging European expansionism." I don't know if it's a good idea to premise this section around "causes." (The final world on the origins of imperialistic expansion in the period from 1870-1914 is still a long way off, but it may be said that no single 'cause' is adequate. We must stress the importance of multiple causation and the fact that numerous motives recur.) While we want to be suggestive, but not at the expense of accuracy and precision. It's all but impossible to cite singular causes of such a complicated international web of activity spread over nearly two generations. 172 07:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)