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The European partition of Africa cannot be explained in economic terms alone. How far do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

Phuong Tran 28/10/2007 Essay Title : The European partition of Africa cannot be explained in economic terms alone. How far do you agree with this statement? After low point in the beginning of the 19th century, there was a revival in Imperialism when European powers fought over Asia and Africa; as from 1875 to 1895, European control in Africa went from 10% to 90%. Through many decades in history, imperialism has been defined as extending a nation's authority by the act of actual conquest and administration of one state; however, more recently, it has been commonly agreed that imperialism can be perceived in larger terms, with a variety of methods rather than "formal" imperialism alone. Even when the common definition has been accepted, there were still numerous debates on the causes of imperialism, in which accumulation theory and monopoly capitalism by J.A Hobson and Lenin argued on term of economic motives; however, their theories were not satisfying enough as there are numerous contradictory variables, shown in the economic and political states of some leading imperial powers, popularity of Imperialism at the time, and the acceptable degree of validity in other incompatible theories. To explain the cause for the "Scramble for Africa" during the late 19th century, Lenin stated: "The impulse was always one of capitalistic greed for cheap raw materials, advantageous markets, good investments, ...read more.

Middle

Lenin's argument that the monopolistic capitalism has allowed a small group of entrepreneurs to take control of the economy, and therefore overseas expansion was a solution they sought to make profit out of the surplus capital. However, Germany, where industrialization took place early and there were clear evidence of a monopolistic capitalism in banking; little did they pay any attention to the economic gains from the colonies they sought later on. Other leading imperial powers, such as Italy and Belgium, don't necessarily have strong economic power, let alone surplus capital, but still heavily pursue overseas expansion. In addition, in the primitive colonies, which could be easily controlled and exploited, it was difficult to create a sufficient market, as the locals didn't have the economic power to purchase the finished goods, leaving the mother countries with other European powers as more suitable trading partners, despise the tariffs. Therefore, it could be proved evidently and statistically that overseas expansion couldn't fully solve the problem of trading or surplus capital, and it was perhaps more reasonable to say that illuminated economics benefits expected from European countries has a significant contribution to the scramble for Africa and Asia. Robinson and Gallagher came up with another reasonable but one-sided theory of causes of the new imperialism in the late 19th century. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, Britain sought control over Egypt to secure the route to its Indies colonies. There was a growing desire for overseas colonies in the late 19th century, caused by exaggerated stories about the "new" land of Africa and Asia. The war fever which Europe was in established many rivalries between competing nations, with a belief shown clear in Lord Rosebery - a British Liberal's speech: "That greater pride in Empire which is called Imperialism...is a larger patriotism.". European leaders were indeed very enthusiastic about overseas expansion, whether it was to support to the rising nationalism, also to citizens' attention away from domestic conflicts and problems, or he/she genuinely believed in the prestige brought by establishing colonies, in the case of Wilhelm II of Germany. It was clear that imperialism created numerous conflicts between leading competing imperial powers, thus contributed greatly to the formation of the entangled alliance system in Europe. The scramble for Africa and Asia in the late 19th century was an inevitable product of former rivalries and the war-atmosphere in Europe from pervious wars and conflicts, with the main motive being highly expectation for economic interest provided from colonies, and the incident of Britain's formalization of Egypt served as a stimulus to the whole imperial expansion. Imperialism is a significant variable, being both the cause and the effect of an ongoing circle of militarism, entangled alliance system, and nationalism leading to World War I. ...read more.

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