In the period between 1870 and 1914, Western powers took over the main portions of the non-Western world when there was considerable discussion and debate regarding the cause of this takeover. Despite the controversies surrounding this decision, the Western powers were motivated by various factors behind the takeover. The takeover of the non-Western world by Western powers is commonly known as imperialism or European imperialism. The term imperialism is used to refer to the process of expanding one state's control over another through various forms. Some of the major forms that characterize the takeover include direct rule and indirect rule with the former involving annexing territories outright and subjugating people who lived in these territories. In contrast, indirect rule is a process where Western powers reached agreements with local leaders and governed through these agreements. Regardless of the form of imperialism, the takeover by Western powers attracted huge debate and controversies.
European imperialism or takeover by Western powers has taken varying forms that are historically inter-related. Direct rule by these powers was a wholesale appropriation of territory through demographic and political displacement of previous occupants of a territory. On the contrary, indirect rule involved controlling societies or territories that remained in occupation of the entire land though reshaped. Therefore, the takeover of non-Western world by the Western powers or European nations involved territorial appropriation or demographic displacement.
The differences in the methods of takeover contributed to the classification of the takeover into two major categories. The first category is known as formal imperialism, which was characterized by colonial rule over largely indigenous populations without geographic takeover ("Economic Imperialism," p.1). While this type of imperialism can be traced back to 1765 when British East India Company established control over Bengal's land revenue, it was used between 1870 and 1914 by Western powers in their takeover of the non-Western world. The second category of imperialism is informal imperialism that involves the use of force to secure territories or open foreign markets. The origin of this form of takeover can be traced back to the 15th Century where it was applied to the establishment by the Portuguese. It was later practiced in the 17th Century by the French, English, and Dutch with armed seaborne trading networks in the African and Asian coasts.
Even though these forms of imperialism have long-standing histories, they expanded dramatically in the 19th Century. One of the most significant examples of formal imperialism was the scramble for Africa between 1875 and 1902 through which Europeans secured approximately 90% of the African continent (Coffin & Stacey, p.524). Moreover, formal imperialism was widely used between 1870 and 1900 where small group of Western powers like Germany and the United States colonized 25% of the land surface across the globe.
The small group of Western powers i.e. France, Russia, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States extended informal empire into Turkey, China, Central and South America, and South and East Asia. The expansion of informal empire or European power contributed to the emergence of the concept of neo-imperialism thought the concept was not entirely new. Imperialism or takeover of non-Western world by Western powers can be regarded as a new means of European empire building following the disintegration of European initial modern empires in North and South America by the end of the 18th Century.
The 19th Century imperialism emerged against the conditions of liberal revolution, industrialization, and development of nation-states. Notably, most of these Western powers were in principle democratic countries where the government exercised its authority based on consent and the concept of civic equality. While the Western powers had ambitious goals that fueled the takeover, they encountered resistance from the local indigenous populations. The resistance helped to shape the history of colonialism just like the ambitious plans of the Western powers.
Reasons for the Takeover:
The conquest of non-Western world was made difficult by the fact that Western powers were primarily democratic nations whose governance relied on the idea of civic equality and consent. The Western powers stated various reasons for their takeover though their decisions generated sharp questions, especially about the status of colonized individuals. Some of the reasons attributed to the takeover include a missionary passion to covert people to Christianity, social reforms, and investment in infrastructure. However, the main reason for the takeover include & #8230;
One of the major reasons that fueled the takeover of non-Western world by Western powers was economic gains. Actually, the nature of colonial imperialism in the 19th Century changed significantly because the nature and motives of this process was largely influenced by the growing industrialization. Before this period, the emergence of imperialism in the early 1500s was driven by three major factors i.e. God, gold, and glory, which made Western powers to strongly extend their power and influence across the globe ("European Imperial Expansion," par, 1). The economic-driven imperialism was also geared towards expanding European civilization to an extent where European civilization and culture would have 85% dominance in the entire world.
The influence of economic gains towards European imperialism is evident in the fact that the Industrial Revolution during this period necessitated the need for new resources and markets. As a result, Western powers sought to takeover the non-Western world because of the growing economic competition that was brought by the spread Industrial Revolution. These countries were characterized with an economically unsettled period in the 1860s that contributed to depression in 1873. In addition, industrial countries were hurt because of their dependence on raw materials and negative impacts on balance of trade. The growth of economic competition from industrialized and industrializing countries like Germany resulted in imperialism.
Economic purposes are considered as the main reason for European imperialism because the colonies were potential markets for manufactured goods, sources of raw materials, and channels for surplus population (Mills, par, 17). Actually, the proponents of imperialism by Western powers usually used economic reasons to encourage policies of empire-building and imperial expansion. According to King of the Belgians, Leopold, colonies were the main source of Britain's economic wealth and power.
A major example that demonstrates that imperialism was fueled by economic purposes is imperialism in China that started way before the commencement of the new imperialism. While the Western powers did not conquer and occupy entire regions, they forced advantageous trade agreements at gunpoint. Prior to the 19th Century European imperialism, trade between China and Europe was focused on in demand luxuries though the Chinese government was determined to lessen foreign trade and influence. However, Britain focused on enhancing terms of the China trade during the period of imperialism through claims to receive special trading privileges. The second example of economic gains being one of the major reasons for European imperialism is French colonialism in northern Africa. While France invaded Algeria, other Europeans soon outnumbered the French and carried out numerous economic activities because of the benefit of such activities to Europe (Coffin & Stacey, p.533).
World Power Status:
The second major reason that fueled imperialism is the pursuit of world power status that had economic reasons attached to it. The pursuit of world power status was also fueled by internal political challenges and international tensions that characterized the period of imperialism. The internal political tensions or political problems were caused by economic changes while international tensions were due to the fragile balance of power in the European continent. Actually, the European continent had been radically changed by the rise of a powerfully unified Germany and Italy. The region was also battling the destabilizing process of speedy disintegration of Ottoman power in southeastern Europe and the Middle East and the increasing rebellion in Ireland against British rule ("European Imperial Expansion," par, 3). Therefore, these countries sought to conquer several parts…