Remember the questions you asked on the bookmark activity? Here come the answers!
Q. “Why was imperialism practiced so heavily inEurope?”As we went over in class, there were two main reasons forEuropean imperialism:• Many European nations, due to an increase in lifeexpectancy and a decrease in infant and childhood death,were using up their resources at an increased pace. Thenations that they took over had these materials in abundance!• Many European nations (Germany and Italy, being relativelynew nations, were guilty of this) believed that, in order to betaken seriously by the ‘big dog’ nations like England, France,and Russia, they had to mimic their behavior. If those nationspracticed imperialism, then they had to as well! While thissounds silly and juvenile, this appearance of power was aVERY important facet of national identity and security!
Q. “What were the benefits of imperialism?”As we have talked a good bit about the benefits for the nations doing theconquering, lets look at the benefits to the nations being manipulated:• Technology! This is the big one, as it covers almost every area of aperson’s life. It led to new and improved farming tools, increased meansof communication, and industry that leads to large population centersbeing possible.• Medical advancement: medical science of this time, even in Europe,was barbaric by what we consider ‘standard’ today. But, compared tomost of the areas that they were taking over, it was a night-and-daydifference! Better knowledge of medicine and nutrition led to a higher lifeexpectancy and a higher quality of life (at least in theory!).• Establishment of schools, universities, and hospitals.• Transportation and communication: roads, railroads, and the telegraphallowed for these people to move and communicate like never before.
Q. “Why was imperialism practiced mainly byEuropeans only?”In order to fully practice imperialism, a nation needed severalthings:• Transportation: specifically, a nation needs a powerful. Ocean-going navy in order to mover people and materials from place-to-place quickly.• Communication: the ability to speak to distant people withrelative speed (using the telegraph and later the telephone andradio) improved a nation’s ability to react and transferinformation.• ADMINISTRATION!: A nation must have the ability to take allof the information, materials, and people and put them wherethey need to be when they need to be there!Europeans had these things. Other nations did not!
Q. “Why did European nations see themselves assuperior?”Simply put, Europeans looked at the people they targeted forimperialism and saw the things that they had left behind to becomemore ‘civilized.’ They lived comparatively clean lives in permanentbuildings. They enjoyed a greatly advanced life expectancy, andused modern devices to do things with ease that took the average‘savage’ hours, days, or even weeks to accomplish.Europeans saw their ability to master their environment rather thanbe mastered by it as a symbol of superiority. They saw that,throughout history, they had progressed from tribal people usingsimple tools and weapons to a modern, urban people using trains,machine guns, and medicine.Think about it, Americans have VERY SIMILAR attitudes to peoplein other nations (especially ‘Third World’ nations) today!
Q. “What is cultural diffusion?”Cultural diffusion is the process by which culture spreadsfrom area to area. Just like in chemistry, it moves from aplace of high concentration to one of lower concentrationuntil it is found everywhere.Modern culture is LOADED with examples: dubstep, Coca-Cola, blue jeans, martial arts in movies, different dancesteps, and the like are pop culture examples.Examples from the age of imperialism include: the concept ofpermanent residence over nomadic society, increasedindustrialization, a refocusing from land power to navalpower, the concept that people are inherently free and haverights that are common to all men (at this point, they meantWHITE men, later amended to JUST GUYS, and thenWOMEN, TOO).
Q. “Why did nationalism lead to nations taking overother nations?” Nationalism, at its heart, is the belief that your nation is the best nation in the world. And since your nation is the best, it is your job to show the other nations how to be more like you! This can be done passively or actively. Imperialism is a much more active form, as it requires that you literally take over the other nation, often citing that it is “for their own good” (paternalism). Since your nation is OBVIOUSLY superior, it is your duty to help, and your right to do it by force if need be. A more passive form comes from the idea of cultural diffusion. As mentioned in a previous slide, cultural diffusion is the process by which a cultural element (for example, dubstep) begins in one place and, through various forms of transmission (radio, word-of-mouth, CDs, movie soundtracks, and advertising), becomes common in a new place.
Q. “What is the balance of power?”The balance of power is the theory that nations only get alongwell when no one nation is so powerful that it can dominate all ofthe other states. The theory states that should one nationbecome so powerful that it can dominate all others that itinvariably will use this power to do just that.Knowing this, when a nation begins to gain this kind of power, itsneighbors will notice this, band together in a coalition (a group ofnations fighting for one goal), and attempt to defeat the strongernation. While this theory has proven true over the entirety ofhuman history, the two most common examples in modernhistory are WWI and WWII.Also included in this theory is the idea of nations being“balancers” (joining the coalition to regain the balance of power)and “bandwagoners” (joining the powerful nation to get in goodwith the bully on the block.
Q. “How did the British regain imperial power after theRevolutionary War?”Simple answer? They never really lost it!America was a large group of colonies, to be sure. But Americawas by no means the only jewel in the British imperial crown!They still maintained power all over the world, and the lessonsthat they learned during the U.S. War for Independence madethem much more efficient when dealing with their imperialvassals during the 19th Century!G.B. learned that naval power was the key to imperial power,and focused heavily on technology that took their alreadyfearsome navy and made it truly unrivaled. They also learnedthat brutal, repressive policies inevitably lead to civil unrest. Thisinsight led to their policies of dependant colonialism andprotectorates over direct military activism. With these types oflessons learned, our gain in the Revolutionary War became theirgain as well!
Q. “What decided if a nation was ‘weak’ or ‘strong?’”Generally speaking, a nation’s level of influence is based on theamount of power that it has in a few key areas:• Resources – how many key resources does the nation control?As time progresses, the list of important resources grows, andmost nations do not have all (or even most) of them within theirown borders!• Infrastructure – how adept is your nation at moving people,items, and ideas from place-to-place? Also, if one key piecebreaks down, does your whole nation fall apart, or is it more of asetback?• Leadership – strong leaders almost always lead to strongnations. A strong, WISE leader leads to an even stronger nation!Strong leaders can instill fierce nationalismNations who score well on the three things above tend to beviewed as ‘strong’ nations, while those that do not score well areconsidered ‘weak.’
Q. “What began the rush towards imperialism in thelate 1800s?”There were several reasons for the sudden increase inimperialistic tendencies in Europe (the book has severalexamples), but two stand out (at least in my mind):• The need for new resources. By comparison to the U.S., manyEuropean nations are pretty small. Even more so, they had usedup a good deal of their mineral wealth, and increases inpopulation due to longer life expectancies led to nations seeingfood shortages in their near future. They needed new lands toacquire the resources needed to stay ‘on top.’• MONEY! Many of the lands that Europe’s rulers were targetinghad resources that, if properly taken advantage of, would makewhatever nation that did ENORMOUSLY wealthy! King Leopold IIof Belgium is a notorious example of this concept.
Q. What is Social Darwinism?Social Darwinism is the political theory that, just as in nature, thestrongest tend to survive. Therefore, it is the right for strongernations to not only lord over weaker ones, but to use whatevermeans they can to insure as few other nations as possible rivalyour nation’s power.From the late 1800s all the way to today, many leaders haveused this idea to justify all manner of horrible activity. Fascismand Nazism are both heavily invested in Social Darwinism, asare many racial hate groups. By taking Darwin’s theory of‘survival of the fittest’ to this extreme, these leaders decidedthat, since their race or nation was superior, then it was theirright to exploit, conquer, or kill those ‘lesser’ people as they sawfit.
Q. “What caused the end of the Age of Imperialism?”It can be argued that imperialism never really ended!But for historical purposes, the Age of Imperialism ended on July28, 1914, AKA the beginning of World War I. During the war theimperialist nations did not have the resources or manpowerspare on imperialism, and after the war treaties were put intoplay to limit imperialism, which was recognized as a main reasonWWI happened in the first place.As an important note, some nations (India is a good example),actively supported their European ‘allies.’ India sent 1,000,000troops to the battlefields of WWI. 75,000 of them died in battle.
Q. “Could a nation with 1-3 strong markets maintain astable economy?” (Draven Welch)EXCELLENT QUESTION! In the Ancient World, having asurplus in a few key market areas (grain, timber, buildingmaterials, ores, gold, and livestock are all good examples) wasoften enough for a nation to enjoy hundreds of years of success.Ancient Egypt was an excellent example of this!However, as technology becomes more complex, new materialsbecome more important. During the Age of Imperialism, rubber,coal, copper, iron, and oil become ever more important, andpractically no nation had ample reserves of all of these that were easy to acquire. The list of materials needed to build, crew, andmaintain a 1800s steam-powered warship is immense, so justimagine what a modern aircraft carrier, fully loaded and crewed,requires to build!So, short answer: in the distant past, yes. In modern times: no!
Q. “What is the difference between nationalism andpatriotism?Short answer? The spelling is different.Ok, a longer answer then. From a political theory standpoint,nationalism is generally regarded as a measurement of one’snational strengths and character and, based on this perception(whether rational of not), deciding that one’s nation is the best onEarth. Basically, it is “Look at how awesome we are! We MUSTbe the best!”Patriotism, in general terms, requires little insight. A stereotypicalpatriot (in modern terms), requires little insight as to WHY theirnation is the best, and simply accepts that it IS the best. At itsextreme, patriotism can be like a form of zealotry, where onebelieves in the superiority of their nations regardless of theevidence of the nation’s insufficiencies or wrong-doing.