European Colonialism: New Imperialism

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New Imperialism
Resulting from a rapid technical progress, a new attitude towards foreign policy began to dominate European governments. Political elites were increasingly influenced by the idea of Social Darwinism which justified the growing demand for more aggressive expansion and reinforcement of national status. “Survival of the fittest” encouraged states to engage in colonial rivalry since acquisition of territories outside Europe began to determine the potentiality for dominance in the world arena. Colonies not only provided access to raw materials and secured markets for export flows, but they also served as the means to enhance prestige of a nation and make it compatible in the struggle for spheres of interests. It is noticeable that
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Increased competition among Great Powers challenged current position of Germany and inevitably created a reasonable demand for “a place in the sun”. Rapid economic development and successful renovation of industries ceased to be sufficient for world dominance. “Only complete political confusion and naive optimism can prevent the recognition that the unavoidable efforts at trade expansion by all civilized bourgeois-controlled nations, after a transitional period of seemingly peaceful competition, are clearly approaching the point where power alone will decide each nation's share in the economic control of the earth…”(Max Weber, 1894) Thus, colonial expansion provided ample opportunity to demonstrate national capacity for projecting power and dominance over rival counties.
Active pro-colonial policy originated to some extent from the idea of civilizing missions which should be undertaken by superior nations in order to promote socialization and education of inferior peoples. The famous poem “White Man’s Burden” by Rudyard Kipling epitomized enthusiasm and eagerness of European governments to commence further overseas expansionism and continue to intervene in domestic affairs of underdeveloped
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Despite inevitable territorial disputes caused by military collisions, Bismarck managed to preserve balance of power in Europe and simultaneously strengthen German position due to the efficient negotiations and system of alliances. The Chancellor "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess… [and] devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers" (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire: 1875–1914 (1987)) Nevertheless, diplomatic methods of “realpolitik” favored by Bismarck appeared to be insufficient in the case of Franco-Prussian war. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine and ignominious defeat deteriorated relations between Germany and France and contributed to the amplification of tensions. Instigated by increasing social discontent and hostility, further escalation of nationalism in France virtually denoted the first stage of the prewar period. Moreover, the idea of “revanchism” which began to dominate the country’s foreign policy provides a sufficient explanation of the French gravitation towards an alignment with Great Britain and subsequent polarization of

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