Imperialism and World War

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Imperialism and World War

So, all over the world, imperialism led to international friction.

South America was exempt; here, by the Monroe Doctrine, the United States had ranged themselves against any political 'penetration by Europe.

But everywhere else - in Africa, northern, tropical, or southern; in Asia from Mesopotamia to the Far East;' even in Polynesia - clashes of policy and rival ambitions were helping, by the end of the century, to set the stage for the first World War.

Last but not least in all parts of the world where European (and later American) capitalism employed coloured labour, in Africa, Polynesia, India, the Far East, we find the raw material for a line-up Of class forces similar to that of the early Industrial Revolution, but with even greater inequality and with greater possibilities of strife because less of sympathy.

Class and racial cleavages begin to coincide more and more closely.

The outcome is not clear now; it was certainly not clear then.

The Technique of Expansion.

The old device of the Chartered Company was revived during this period.

Between 1880 and 1890 five new companies were founded for general colonial enterprise; the British North Borneo, the Royal Niger, the Imperial British East Africa, the British South Africa, and the African Lakes Company, and in each case the territory exploited by the chartered company 'became in due course a protectorate.

A host of smaller companies were floated for particular ends: planting, shipping, mining and railway making. Trade and the flag marched together.

Imperial Tariff Policy.

Government intervention, or at the least Government influence, was used by all the colonizing powers to back concession-hunters of their nationality; but Great Britain did not, during these years, follow the example of Germany and France and force on her colonies, new and old, a tariff policy designed to benefit home industrialists and shut out the foreigner.

Indeed, one of the justifications used during the scramble for Africa was that Great Britain owed it to the world at large, as a duty, to step in ahead of her Protectionist rivals and so keep the doors of trade open to all! The Crown Colonies and Protectorates were all Free Trade areas.

The self-governing colonies - later to be called Dominions - had their fiscal policy in their own hands, Canada claiming and winning fiscal autonomy in 1859 and the rest following suit; and they used their power, one and all, to put up tariffs against both foreign and British goods.

Great Britain had the benefit of a preference, her goods coming in on a lower scale; but even the preferential duties were still formidable enough - considerably stiffer in Canada, for instance, after the tariff of 1897, than in many markets outside the Empire.

This is a state of affairs which has persisted.




More - Opposing Interests Among The Lords.

Political Effects of Imperialism

The political results of this new attitude were important. If people did not, on the whole, care whether a larger or a smaller area of the map were coloured red, they could look on with equanimity at the friendly rivalries of trade (a phrase with a definitely pre-1870 ring); but not otherwise. It was said that trade followed the flag; but the converse was equally true. Now Governments watched with anxiety and mutual ill-will the activities of one another's traders and explorers, and more and more frequently intervened with diplomatic pressure, intrigue and shows of force Laisser-faire was slipping.... see: Political Effects of Imperialism


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