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The reasons for the growth and decline

Up until World War II, Imperialism had been a major part of civilization throughout the world. The conquering and occupying of other lands had been prominent in all of the major world empires. The Romans, Ottaman Turks, Egyptians, Mongols, Syrians, Greecians, Babylonians, Muslims, Persians, and others had all thrived on the occupation of other territories. However, as the advancement of military warfare and techonolgy increased, the stakes increased, the wars longer, the casualities higher, and the controlling of vast amounts of land became harder as people sought ethnic diversity and lung to their heritage harder.

The last of these great imperialistic empires stands with Great Britian and France. Other european powers in the 1800’s also had their hand in the cookie jar of imperialism, including belgium, italy, and Germany, but the powerhouses existed with Great Britian and France. Up until a little after World War II, in the 1950’s and 60’s, did imperialism last. The questions asked now is how did European powers manuever their way into the lives of other ethninticies, and why didn’t it last?

Around 1870, imperialism in Africa escualted, with her coast line quickly being natched by Great Britian, France, the Dutch, Germany, and the Italians, and then they started working their way inward. The Industrial Revolution caused new wealth to emerge, and this new wealth was invested in occupying new territories, for either a sign of prestige or dominance, probably both to an extent. Techonology is growing, and communications is increasing, thus making it easier to occupy new lands and peoples.

Medical techonolgy is increasing, and the ability to combat new diseases helps the imperialistic powers overcome the new pestilences that they encounter. The increasing rowth of the R. R made it easier to transport goods and materials needed to occupy territory. The population in Europe is growing, and these new lands are possible place to settle as well. But why did countries like Great Britian seek to expend enouormous amounts of money on provinces without much coming back to them? One theory is the Accident theory that says their was no real intent in the colonization that took place.

The theory says that once one land was taken, the surrounding land would also need to be occupied to secure it’s location beause of threats or internal revolts against colony A. So colonies B and C were occupied, and eventually D, E, and F. However, this theory doesn’t explain why these european countries were initially there. Another theory is the Economic theory that explains how, because of the economic recesssion in the 1870’s due to overproduction, europe sought to increase her market.

Wages were not keeping up with costs, so companies laid off people, who in turn couldn’t spend as much because they didn’t have a job. So, countries tried to secure new lands for a secure market. However, as nice and tidy this may sound, there is no “paper rail”, meaning that no notes or proof that buisnessmen tried to open markets with other countries. A second problem is that why would products try and be sold to peoples that had no money or need for them? A lot of the lands taken over were poor colonies, who obviously couldn’t put up much of a defense to start off with.

A third theory is the political theory, and this proposes that since Europe was bcoming more and more internationally intense, the Germans, who were dead in the center of Europe, were unifying and growing and fast becoming the number one ndustrial power, Europe began to drift into a number of alliances for protection. It was important that you looked like you had military power and prominence so that Germany, or any other up and coming country wouldn’t be tempted to attack you. So, instead of going to war and prooving your superiority with death, you established yourself by how many countries you could overtake.

These theories give some reason to why they might have felt the need to expand. But why did it begin to decline? Soon after World War II, the Turkish empires collapse, opening up the Middle East for occupation, and even some its of Asia are occupied. Imperialism did bring with it benefits. For instance, new roads were built and the public infrastructure was enhanced, Economic developement increased, creating new jobs and industries, and the standard of health grew, wiping out a lot of the child mortality rate because of the coming of western medicine that helped deal with other diseases.

However, on second glance, the economic developement that occured was not done so in a long term manner. A lot of the plans were more of a get quick rich sort of scheme, as opposed to actually establishing a secure ecomomic market hat would help with developement in the long run. As the health of natives increased, and more people lived longer, with less people dying, a new problem of jobs and economic stablity arises. The jobs simply aren’t out there to provide for the larger families and growth in population.

The economy of the area was already fragile and not developed properly, and it certainly didn’t accomidate the growing population. Where do these new people live? So you see that the ‘benefits’ of imperialism aren’t that great. The underlying truth of why imperialism failed, was because no one likes having omeone else coming in and bossing them around, regardless of what they are promising. This sort of dominance only creates resentment, and resentment was the foundation of resistance movements.

The leaders of these resistance movements were generally natives of the colonies occupied, that were sent to the mother country for education and training, and sent back home to govern their own people. However, very often instead of helping the mother country, they only used their education and training to break the ties with the foreign invaders. The typical resistence movment was someone organizing a para- ilitary group to make trouble by blowing up bridges and the occasional police station, all in hopes that the colonizers would give up and go home.

One man imerged from the havoc of imperialism to lead his people towards independance. His name was Ghandi. Ghandi practiced non-violent sort of resistence movements. He grew up in a middle class family, educated in Law in England, moved to South Africa for a while, then on to India. Ghandi refused to use violence as a means for getting the independance he wanted for his country. Instead, he would organize huge demonstrations and do things like having 00,000 people lie down in the middle of the streets in Bombay.

Gradually, the imperialists were beginning to wonder why they were there. In some cases, it cost MORE to maintain the colonies than they were worth. In World War II, the Japs came in and took control of the european colonies in Asia, so after WWII, the question was whether the European countries wanted to take back control. Due to the economic strain in Europe because of the War, maintaining your own country was hard enough, much less worrying about natives off in the middle of nowhere who were only a nusicance.

Also, the rise of the 3rd world made it possible to wage the cold war without actually confrontation. The displacement of agression was common within the poorer countries in Europe. Maintaining a policy of imperialism was not the way to gain support for democracy against communism. So, the United States put’s pressure on the major European powers to decolonize. Between the 1950’s and 60’s, 28 new countries were created, and in the 1960’s alone, 18 new African nations were established. What happens to these new countries once they declare independance and their colonizers move out?

Once independant, these new countries realized that they couldn’t go back to the old customs, and that a lot of what had been established was going to stay. Europeans created the world with the scientific revolution, enlightenment, and development of a nationalistic state, and to disacknowledge these improvements to mankind was to hinder yourself from growth. Plus, the population was growing and therefor these new countries were forced to industrialize to support it’s citizens. Also, the military needed to grow, because if you can’t defend yourself, then it’s pointless to industrialize.

If your neighbor is industrializing, then you better as well, or else you might be swallowed by her economic might. However, one major problem was that some countries didn’t have the infrastructure or capitial, so they were forced to borrow from corporations or banks. This led to economic imperialism, another form of imperialism by obligating countries to your economic rule because of debt. Since you needed to money to industrialize, you were held subject to their trade agreements, and therefore sometimes even if you could make new ‘widgets’, the market might not be there.

Then, and today, the hird world is falling further and further behind because of their growing population and lack of economic stablity to support it. The new political powers are having problems establishing stable govts because their is nothing in the form of identity that anyone can hold on to. When these new countries were originally occupied by others, sometimes they were hastily thrown together without regard to boundaries, customs, or tribal groups, and this caused tremendous internal tension. Once the European powers left, you have different warring tribal groups all supposed to belong to one form of govt.

One example is nigeria, that was formed by the British by combining three tribal groups together. One the British left, much blood was shed over what a nigerian was or was not. There was no coherant agreement on what these new people stood for. Goals for the future are almost dependant on the new countries ability to industrialize and keep up with the Western powers. Establishing a stable government is one step toward political and economic growth and stablity. Agreeing on what a country is about, and how they are to support themselves are vital.

Holding fast to an identity, as Americans, Frenchmen, and the British do, only aids in the development of old things, and the creation of new techonology. However, as afore mentioned, because of their being no distribution of weatlth in the world, and within the new countries, the new money is only spread out over the growing population providing no real enhanced standard of living for anyone, the gap will become wider and wider economically between the more developed countries and the third world. Economic developement is the key to success, and without that, these once colonized countries will only continue to struggle.

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