Imperialism and colonialism in Asia and Africa

Imperialism is a state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. Because it always involves the use of power, whether military force or some subtler form, imperialism has often been considered morally reprehensible, and the term is frequently employed in international propaganda to denounce and discredit an opponent’s foreign policy.

European civilization experienced a period of unprecedented rapid expansion around the globe during the last third of the nineteenth century. European nation-states had become very powerful because of industrialization and because of the organizational efficiency of the nation-state.

ÿ European global expansion had actually begun in the fifteenth century, but the process greatly accelerated in the nineteenth century.
ÿ Latin America and the seaports of Asia and Africa were the first to be colonized by Europeans. Native Americans were liquidated or thoroughly subjugated to European rule. Most Latin American descendents (Latinos) of the Spanish conquerors gained independence from Spain by the early 19th century, while many indigenous peoples remained subject.
ÿ The African climate, disease and geography delayed most European colonization until the 19th century, although the descendents of Dutch settlers, known as Afrikaans or Boers, came to South Africa as early as the 16th century.
ÿ Slavery took a heavy toll on African development ever since the 16th century. Millions of young people of working age were taken away. Great conflict ensued.
ÿ Asia’s population was too great, its civilization too firmly established for Europeans to rule it directly. The Europeans did establish control over seaports and trade. In places like India and Indonesia, Europeans ruled indirectly through their domination of the local aristocracy.
ÿ England was the leading European colonial power and had already established much of its overseas empire by the beginning of the 19th century.
ÿ France was second, with its holdings in Southeast Asia and in North Africa, both of these being established during the 19th century.
ÿ Portugal, Spain and Holland retained some colonies because they had been the earliest colonial powers, and still retained some of them in the 19th century.
ÿ Germany and Italy were late arrivals on the colonial scene because they had only unified themselves in the 1860’s.
ÿ The United States became a colonial power at the end of the 19th century, after having spent the century moving across the North American continent to the Pacific Ocean. Defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War led to the establishment of American colonies in the Caribbean and in the Philippines. The Hawaiian Islands were conquered at the sametime. (1890’s)
ÿ Japan was the first Asiatic nation to become a colonial power. Long isolated and refusing to trade with Europeans, except for a limited, controlled trade with Holland, the Japanese were forced to trade by a United States naval squadron in 1845. Subsequently, the Japanese experienced a political revolution. The new leadership modernized rapidly by adopting European technology and organization.
ÿ The British forced China to open itself to the Opium trade in the 1840’s. China also experienced social upheaval (The Tai Ping rebellion), and was unable to prevent foreign domination of its trade. By the end of the 19th century, England, Germany, Russia, Japan, and the United States had all compelled China to trade with them. Russia occupied Manchuria and Port Arthur, Japan was in Korea, Germany was in the Shantung peninsula, and the British were in Hong Kong.
ÿ The French, the British, the Germans and the Italians competed with each other in the last third of the 19th century to lay claim to Africa. The Belgian king Leopold was also extensively involved. The only remaining areas of Africa not colonized by the end of the century were Ethiopia in the horn of Africa and Liberia on the Atlantic coast.
ÿ Another aspect of European expansion in the last half of the 19th century involved the emigration of large numbers of Europeans to other parts of the world. European population had been increasing more rapidly than non- European populations during this time. Population pressure combined with improved overseas transportation led to the greatest migration in history up to that time.
ÿ The ease with which Europeans dominated non-European areas of the world is explained by the power they had resulting from industrialization and the nation- state organization.
ÿ But the explanations that Europeans made to themselves were that they were superior to non-European peoples. There were a number of racist ideas widely believed by Europeans:
ÿ Whites were superior to non-whites. One variation was Rudyard Kipling’s idea of the White Man’s Burden. The white man had the burden and responsibility of bringing the blessings of their superior civilization to the savages of the non- European world.
ÿ Another was a variation of Social Darwinism in which white Europeans were considered more fit in the struggle for survival. Another variation was that Christianity was the only true religion.
ÿ Racist attitudes also separated northern Europeans from southern Europeans, Anglo-Saxons, Nordics and Teutons from Latins, and Aryans from Semites.
ÿ Anti-Semitism had traditionally been interpreted on the basis of religion with Jews considered to be Christ-killers. A new anti-Semitic concept of Jews as an inferior race, which endangered the purity of Aryans, developed in the late 19th century, particularly in eastern Europe.
ÿ Vienna, as the capitol of the multi-ethnic Austrian Empire, was a particular site for the greatest variety of anti-Semitic writings.
ÿ Racism and anti-Semitism was a virulent motivating force in 19th century Europe, which boded ill for the future.

Causes of the Rise of Colonialism:

ÿ Many countries of Europe had established their colonies outside. Many reasons were responsible for that.At first, with the Discovery of New Sea-Route, new places and countries were discovered. After Columbus had discovered America, the countries like Spain and Portugal established Colonies in that country. When Vascodagama discovered sea-route to India, Portugal had to establish its colonies in that country. Subsequently, France and England came to establish their colonies in India.
ÿ Secondly, Economic Consideration encouraged colonialism. The countries like England, France, Spain and Portugal established their colonies and wanted to be rich by bringing money from those colonies.
ÿ Thirdly, the Industrial Revolution prompted the countries of Europe to procure raw- materials from outside for their factories. Since, they had no huge quantity of raw- materials for their factories; they had no alternative to bring the same from their colonies. This gave rise to Colonialism.
ÿ Fourthly, some European countries having imperial tendency wanted to send their Surplus Population to outside. That is why they wanted to have their colonies for absorbing surplus population.
ÿ Fifthly, due to the Industrial Revolution, the Capitalists became richer. They decided to invest their surplus money outside. This also gave rise to Colonialism.
ÿ Sixthly, many European countries wanted to educate the backward countries of Asia and Europe. Rudyard keeping, a famous poet of England propounded the theory of ‘White men’s burden’. This prompted England to establish overseas empire. In every sense, this view prompted colonialism.
ÿ Seventhly, many countries of Europe felt that ‘Colonies are the Pride of a Country. Mainly England, France, Germany and Portugal championed this cause. This gave rise to unhealthy competition among the European countries for having more and more colonies.
ÿ Finally, the unstable political condition of some of the countries of Asia and Africa gavescope for the rise of Colonialism. Taking chance of such weakness, the European countries tried to establish their colonies in these countries and thus colonialism got chance to grow.

New phase of imperial expansion began in 1870 and most of Africa and Asia was under control of one European power or another and their rivalries often lead to wars as well. Most of these potential wars were, however, settled in conference rooms of Europe in a quid-pro-quo agreement. For example, after long conflicting claims, in 1904 Britain and France entered into a secret agreement whereby Britain was given a ‘free hand’ in Egypt and France was given an interrupted right of domination over Morocco. When Germany came to know about it, it demanded France to relinquish its claim over Morocco and situation almost reached to brink of war. Situation was finally saved in 1911 after France gave Germany a portion of French Congo and Germany in turn relinquished her claim over Morocco. People of these bargained territories never had a say in decisions regarding their fate Such ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ were often used to solve disputes over colonies and despite these, there was growing militarization of Europe andevery country feared that other country had strengthened her armies more than hers. Strengthening of armies was defended as an exercise in self-defense and a deterrent measure. As a result, tensions started to build up and war seemed to become inevitable. Some even glorified the war as a necessary phase in human progress which ultimately led to First world war.

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