Starting around the 1870’s and lasting
until around 1905, western nations began what is today called "New Imperialism."
The major powers of the western world started to gain a need for expansion.
Italy, France, Great Britain, United States and Germany started to feel
the pressure being exerted on them by each other and realized that in order
to stay on top and remain the a western power they must stretch their boundaries
across seas. During this time period imperialism was a common theme
amongst the populations of the western nations and many very influential
people wrote and preached the need for expanding their particular countries
influence. There were three reoccurring explanations given by people
in favor of expansion: the need for more land and resources in order to
better suit the rising populations in the countries and increase economic
chances for them, the feeling of social Darwinism meaning only the strong
and powerful will survive and be on top when it is all over, and finally
most of the countries that are being considered, want to be under the rule
of the western powers. All these factors lead to this brief but extremely
large "imperialistic explosion."
A very common explanation for imperialism
which people were using was the need for more territory in order to allow
the population to expand culturally and economically. The rapid increase
in population in Europe and the industrial revolution started causing an
overcrowding in cities and serious need for jobs in order to maintain order
throughout the different countries. Many countries held the belief
that if a population increase was to continue at its current pace, then
sometime in the near future individual countries could no longer support
itself and provide jobs for the majority of the population. The United
States felt the need for expansion because of the massive flow of immigrants
into a recently developed nation and was not prepared for such a dramatic
increase in the overall population. A common view was that the foreign
territories could provide a vast new amount of natural resources as well
as new agriculture. Also, once colonized, the new territories would
provided a new region to sell its goods from the homeland and at the same
time export more goods throughout Europe and North America. Because
of the tariff barriers that most of the powers had, there was little room
for exports. According to a Frenchmen of the time, Jules Ferry,"
exports are essential for public prosperity. Both demand for labor
and scope for capital investment depend on the foreign market." (Wiesner
pg. 252) With the rise of the industrial revolution a larger market
for various products had developed and with the resources and fertile lands
of foreign territories, economic growth was inevitable. With the
increase in employment in the western world, people started a demand for
new goods. It was clear that the customary thought of the western
powers was that there was no escaping the need for new territories in order
to export and import more goods. The people all knew that in order
to gain these new territories and to insure and better economic future
that there would be a cost. There would have to be a significant
amount of money used by the government in order to send and army over to
the new lands. Once the army was to arrive it was evident that there
would be some sort of fighting and with war comes loss of lives.
None the less expansion was necessary because "...it is less secure
and more expensive to endeavor to cultivate three million hectares of barren
land... than to insure the prosperity of a large agricultural colony..."(Wiesner
pg. 257). Because of, at times, the intense rivalry between the western
powers all the nations felt the need for expansion in order to remain not
only a military power but an economic power.
During this period of "New Imperialism"
many countries made the realization that this time period could be the
last chance for them as a nation to build up their empires. On account
of this idea many people developed a sense of "Social Darwinism."
This is the assumption that humans are involved in a struggle for supremacy
over each other and for those nations that could come forth victorious
will be considered the most worthy to be called a western power.
Because of this idea, the exploitation of the weaker nations "by laws of
nature" was not only allowed but also encouraged. By following in
accordance with this new "law," eventually a better world for everyone
will result. In 1879