Nationalism and Imperialism in the Late Nineteenth Century

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Imperialism and it’s relation to Nationalism

The last quarter of the nineteenth century was the classical age of European imperialism (Marshall,49). Western European countries such as Britain, France, Belgium and Italy were all trying to impose their imperialistic thoughts on other countries. Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia defines Imperialism as the practice by which powerful nations or peoples seek to extend and maintain control or influence over weaker nations...power and influence is extended informally, mainly through diplomatic and economic means, rather than formally through direct colonial rule. Besides the political and economic point of view, the process of imperialism cannot be defined without the cultural concepts such as imposing religion, traditions and or language of a nation.

The three main goals for European imperialists were social, economic and political gain. Social motives focused on morals or ideologies. “Britain’s colonial empire was motivated at least in part by the idea that it was the “white man’s burden” to civilize “backward” peoples” (Imperialism,3). Britain believed that they were superior over all others and all countries were in need of British rule. This was Britain’s justification for their imperialistic policies. The most common motive for imperialism was economic. This was all about acquiring more raw materials, cheaper labour, finding markets for their surplus goods and to expand their own economy. An example of this would be the British setting up East India Companies along the coast of India to trade materials such as cotton, silk and tea.  And lastly some governments just wanted more power. By expanding, governments gained prestige, security and diplomatic advantages.”Imperialism aided Western European countries in securing more troops, as well as naval bases and refuelling points for ships” (European History). In order to attain these goals governments started to implement policies to promote Nationalism. Britannica Encyclopedia defines nationalism as the ideaology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotions to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests.(Britannica)

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Nationalism was promoted for the same reasons by all European governments. Firstly, in order to venture out to imperialize other countries, all citizens in their own country must have the same thoughts and goals and secondly once imperialists exerted their control on another country, they wanted to be able to impose their nationalistic thoughts on them as well.

Western Europe was in a good place in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Crime was low, advances in transportation were taking place and international trade was flourishing, however this was also the time of mass democracy, unionization, and urbanization. ...

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