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British Imperialists' Motives in Scramble for Africa - Essay Example

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In general terms, imperialism can be defined as the domination of one group over another.However,the etymological roots of the word implies an empire; hence, broadly speaking, any imperial rule can be regarded within the category of imperialism…
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British Imperialists Motives in Scramble for Africa
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Download file to see previous pages Nevertheless, imperialism is a many-faceted phenomenon; which had political, economic and social roots. Indeed, Socialist and Marxist critics narrowed its definition down and applied the term to a certain stage of capitalist societies when discussing social and and economic conditions (p.2).Thus, any attempt to give an account on the British imperialism must highlight the underlying political, social and economic motives. As Robinson and Gallagher (1961, pp. 19) stated “a first task in analysing the late-Victorians’ share in the partition [of Africa] is to understand the motives of the ministers who directed it, and the study of official thinking is indispensable to this”. The aim of this paper is to scrutinize British Imperialists' motives in scramble for Africa in three respects: political, economic and social. The Scramble for Africa begun in the last quarter of the 18th century and lasted until the WWI. While the decline of the Ottoman influence created a power vacuum in the region, the colonial powers of Europe, following the lead of the British imperialists, have begun to fill that void. In Africa and The Victorians, Robinson and Gallagher examined the relationship between the partition of Africa and British decision-making process. According to them, the Victorians' political relations with Africa changed radically after 1882. Lord Salisbury stated that: “I do not exactly know the cause of this sudden revolution. But there it is” (Quoted by Robinson and Gallagher, 1961, pp. 17). Late-Victorians were more eager to dominate Africa than their predecessors and the British forces invaded Egypt in 1882. The collapse of weak African governments may also have played role in the partition. In fact, British divide and rule policy was also an important factor in the national unrest and disorder in Africa. However, Robinson and Gallagher focused on the British policy-making as the underlying political factor. In fact, according to them, as also indicated by Schumpeter, “The possibility of official thinking in itself was a cause of late-Victorian imperialism” (pp. 21). Indeed, England had a long tradition of imperial rule and the that policy tradition inherited from Pitt and Channing to Palmerston and Clarendon (p.22). They also highlight ed (pp.22-23) policy makers' ignorance of Africa, as the partition was made “at house parties” without any public interest or participation. In fact, the interests, and thus motives, of policy makers were different in each country. In Egypt, it was due to the collapse of the Kedive regime. In east and west Africa, British interests were related to the Egyptian occupation. In Southern Africa, “imeperial intervention against the Transvaal was designed above all to uphold and restore the imperial influence which economic growth, Africaner nationalism and the Jameson fiasco had overthrown” (pp. 463). In Rhodesias and Nyasaland, the motives were merged with imperial aims in Cape colonial expansion and balance the rise of the Transvaal (pp. 463). However, Robinson and Gallagher stressed that commercial or financial concerns were rather inconsequential in ministers' decision on which territories should be occupied (pp. 463). For Robinson and Gallagher, ministers' private calculations played the most important part in decision-making process and again for different reasons. However, the security concerns seem to have prevailed. In Rhodesia, it was the safety of the routes to the East, in Southern Africa it was the preservation of the colonial rule, while the safety of the routes to India was the prominent imperative (pp. 464). In fact, Robinson and Gallagher (1961, pp. 464) noted that “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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