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European Colonialism, Imperialism, And Cultural Superiority

1149 words - 5 pages

European Imperialism and Cultural Superiority

    Many factors contributed to the colonization of Africa by European powers between 1895 and 1905. Among these factors were the effects of European history, the growing capitalist economy, and the growing competition between European powers. Most important was the belief that European culture was superior to African culture. During the height of imperialism, the vast majority of the African continent was controlled by Europe (ìExtentî 19). It is important to understand what gave the momentum for European dominance at the time.


 Imperialism is present in European history, beginning with the Roman Empire (Lenin). Lugard believes that Europeans inherited ìinstincts of colonial expansionî from their ancestors (Lugard). The Romans practiced what was essentially an early form of imperialist economics (Lenin). Joseph A. Schumpeter writes that most of the wars of history were fought without any real justifiable purpose, and instead were fought out of aggression for its own sake (Schumpeter). He seems to believe that the imperialism is much the same (Schumpeter). This he relates to the history of Europe by noting that the nobles, who had a strong history in warfare for its own sake, were influential in pushing for imperialism (Schumpeter). He believes that the bourgeois class would never have accomplished imperialism on its own (Schumpeter).


 If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism ì (Lenin). There were definite economic factors contributing to the move towards imperialism in Europe (Hobson). This is probably the most basic explanation of European conquest in Africa. With capital increasing in Europe, it was necessary to find new market in which products could be sold and annexation was the best way to ensure these markets (Hobson). Europeans found opportunity to create monopolies in the newly conquered lands (Lenin). It was also necessary to find new sources of raw materials, in order to keep production going (Hobson). This was largely a result of the Industrial Revolution (Hobson). Increased demand for raw materials led to increased demand for imperialism (Lenin). Cecil Rhodes, a British advocate for imperialism, believed it would solve Englandís domestic economic problems (Lenin). People who were likely to gain wealth from colonization further pushed the movement (Schumpeter).


        The element of competition between European powers played a role in imperialism in Africa. When England was the only dominant economic power, imperialism was unnecessary (Hobson). When other nations began to gain power and become significant competition for each other, the argument developed that it was important to stop rivals from gaining the upper hand (Paton). Paton writes about the importance of keeping colonial gains for Britain (Paton). Countries felt that...

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