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The Enlightenment Set The Stage For New Imperialism

1312 words - 5 pages

New imperialism was the mid nineteenth and twentieth centuries cultural equivalent to a modern day mafia, its roots entangled in the economic, cultural, and humanistic aspects of life. The sole objective of the nations entailed the exploitation of their controlled state. Gestating from the change in control of Asian and African nations to the Europeans by means of political deviance, malicious sieges, and strategic military attacks. The juxtaposition to the modern equivalent endures as the aforesaid is sheltered by the fairytale that these nations were in need of aid and by doing so the Europeans were the good guys. The ideas of new imperialism are greatly influenced by those of the enlightenment. Taking place during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the enlightenment was an intellectual movement with the goal of social progress (Genova, 1/11). Armed with scientific thought and reason, enlightenment thinkers set out to explore the fields of science, economics, and human nature. Brilliant minds such as Voltaire, Kant and others all across Western Europe collaborated to further knowledge. The enlightenment laid the foundation on which new imperialism sprung, embedding the ideas of an incessant need to explore not only the scientific world but the physical world as well. The enlightenments goals and ideas significantly influenced new imperialism, because the enlightenment created a need for new means and a purpose to accrue them.
The foundation for new imperialism rested on the ideas and products of the enlightenment. Advancements in technology, medicine and cartography led to the success of new imperialism (Genova, 2/15). For example, European voyages would have been for naught, if it were not for the enlightenment discovery of the vaccine for malaria. Europeans were not only conquering nations but nature as well and because of the enlightenment this was possible (Genova, 2/12). Furthermore, mapmaking and cartography played a pivotal role in the exploration and later conquering of Africa. During the enlightenment many explorers set out to further the knowledge of the seas and of routes with a parallel goal to that of new imperialism, loot (Outram, 47). The hierarchical structure of new imperialism ties to the enlightenment notion of the chain of being, where power is placed with a group atop the chain and flows downward. Finally, the application of reason and science led to more advanced methods of trade, and commerce. For example, the emergence of a postmodern banking industry in Europe, allowed Europeans to invest in developing countries to later gain valuable resources and trading partners.
The enlightenment furnished a new kind of greed; new imperialism gave the greed purpose. With the emergence of thinkers like Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, and David Ricardo who explored trade and its benefits, nations set out with a scientific and materialistic lust after resources they could not presently obtain. The enlightenment created...

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