Economic factors were dominant in the expansion of the new imperialism (Campbell et al 581). The nations that took part in that expansion viewed their colonies as sources of raw materials as well as markets for their produce. Just as rapid industrialization required an endless supply of raw materials, petroleum, tin, rubber, and many other natural resources draw the attention of capitalists. Besides, the industrialists were in need of investments in countries outside Europe since the latter was overdeveloped (Eder 163).
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Apart from the push for profits as the major cause, the New Imperialism also wanted to dominate politically, through military-political interventions. For this purpose, native governments were frequently taken over. Domination over land was important in the competitive environment of Europe, so the New Imperialism was seen as establishment of nationalism and political dominance.
Economic and political factors were not the only driving forces behind the New Imperialism of the late 19th century. The religious ideology served to justify the self-interests of nationalist and imperial expansion. According to Mary Perkins, the author of “Christendom and European Identity: The Legacy of a Grand Narrative since 1789”, Christendom was such ideology that explained the expansion as the mission to peoples that were considered inferior and referred to as “pagan” or “barbarian” (Perkins 253). Ironically, African people were supposed to benefit greatly by being taken to the New World only because they would become Christians. Therefore, religious enlightenment was the formal driving force behind the expansion.
The colonial period dramatically affected the history of many newborn states that emerged as a result of Empires’ disintegration. They have become Third World countries. Today, just like it was in the past, the natural environment of these countries is a source food and raw materials for the developed countries. Innovative technologies were applied to transform ex-colonies into sugar, banana, coffee, oil, bauxite, and iron ore republics.
It was only at the end of the previous century that some states were able to enter the phase of an industrial society which started to transform into a civil one. Still, the majority of the Third World nations perform the roles of “raw-material appendages” to the developed states. They are, in fact, subject to colonialism, but not the military one, but economic and ecological, “with the developed countries having the final say in the social make-up” (Kondratyev et al 89). For example, Burma, which had not been independent from the British Empire until 1948, was not able to develop a civilian society. It turned into a military-led state with around 800, 000 people subject to forced labor. It has become the major clothing industry in the region attracting Western companies by the lowest average wage of a worker (Miller, “Burma’s Clothing Industry Has a Hard Road Ahead ”).
As to the factors that made the New Imperialism possible, there were a few of them. They included the population boom in Europe required more jobs, more raw materials and more markets; the Industrial Revolution, which also made capitalists hungry for new markets and raw materials; the transportation and conquer of colonies was easy due to advanced weapon and improved communications; colonies were thought of as assets and signs of power (Patching, “The New Imperialism”).
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