Imperialism in the name of Religion
the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a
nation, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining indirect
control over the political or economic life of other areas. (Webster's
is often excused as a way of liberating people from tyrannical rule or by
introducing the policies of a "superior" way of life. It is based on
the ground of a variety of causes ranging from economic pressures, greed,
security, power, prestige, religion, and any other effective measures that can
be taken given the circumstances. Arguments about the causes and morality of
Imperialism can be classified into four main topics. The first revolves around
whether or not Imperialism is economically beneficial. The second relates to the
social aspect of Imperialism and the "natural" desire to rule others.
The third is protection and security, building up navy and army powers around
the world in order to help the mother country when trouble erupts. The last is
morals and their religious aspects. Because Imperialism has its basis on power,
it is often considered morally reprehensible. The thirst for power drove the
European nations into a frenzy to control the continent based solely on the
false belief that they were "superior", thereby inflicting numerous
evils upon both the African land and its people.
did benefit a small and favored group, but never the entire nation. For some
people, capitalism and Imperialism are identical and they interpret Imperialism
as a late stage of capitalism when nations are forced to depend on monopolies in
overproduction and surplus capital so that they can compete with other nations.
enormous expense [Imperialism] has procured a small, bad, unsafe increase of
markets, and has jeopardized the entire wealth of a nation in rousing the strong
resentment of another nations. (Hobson)
of the British Empire was the main reason for Britain's interest in Africa.
Britain's economy had always depended heavily on trade, and having colonies was
the way to expand their trade. Before the 1870s, Britain had little to no
competition for various colonies. Their first act was against France in 1869. By
completing the Suez Canal, a route was opened into Asia, linking the two
continents that were the most in demand. Britain feared that they would be cut
off and India would be taken from them. To solve this problem, Britain gained
control of the Suez Canal, then all of Egypt. Another country needed in order to
protect India was South Africa. Its port at Cape Town was an essential stop en
route to India. When gold and diamonds were discovered in other parts of South
Africa, Britain faced a hard battle to take over all of South Africa. After all,
keeping India was essential to Britain's survival as an empire, without which
they would be just another European nation. At this time, neither Germany nor
Italy was unified and the French were busy fighting with the Prussians. The
European powers really had no interest in external affairs, so long as they did
not concern their well being. Eighteen seventy-one changed everything. Germany
and Italy were unified and France had just lost Alsace-Lorraine to the Germans.
The French were the first to begin the annexation of Africa, mostly because they
wanted to restore their lost sense of national pride. (Tucker) Because both
Germany and France went for Africa, the English were suddenly faced with
competition. An economic depression in Europe in the 1880s caused markets to
become even scarcer than they were to begin with. In a futile attempt to right
themselves, Britain began taking over land in Africa. After all, land was quite
cheap. It was only afterwards that all the European powers realized what they
had bought into, and had to face the fact that the whole ordeal was
unprofitable, though they hated to admit to it.
is also classified as a natural struggle for survival. Those endowed with
"superior" qualities were "destined" to rule over others.
This was a very twisted form of social Darwinism. Ruling others is not survival
of the fittest, in order to appear as the fittest, one does not need to trample
all over the cultures of other people. No matter how "weak" others may
seem, it is not they that are weak, but the people who feel the need to rule
over other others. These greedy and far from self-fulfilled people are selfish
and have a severe superiority complex. The European nations raced each other for
every bit of land they could snap up. The results were horrifying.
colonial acquisitions from 1870 to 1900 amounted to 4,754,000 square miles
containing 88,000,000 people. During the period 1880-1900, France acquired
3,500,000 square miles, with 37,000,000 inhabitants; Belgium appropriated
900,000 square miles, containing 30,000,000 inhabitants; and the Germans took
1,026,220 square miles, populated by 16,687,100 persons. Most of these
territorial additions were in Africa." (Tucker)
acquired a huge empire in North and West Africa consisting of Algeria, Dahomey,
Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Tunisian, and other areas in western Africa.
Although the French controlled the most territory, Britain ruled the greatest
number of people including Egypt, Gambia, Gold Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rhodesia,
Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda. Germany ruled Cameroon, Southwest
Africa, Tanganyika, and Togoland. By 1914, there were two independent countries
left in Africa: Liberia and Ethiopia.
nations created a buffer zone for the main European powers. These new colonies
also created "natural" barriers against other European nations.
Actually, by obtaining new colonies, tension was built up between the countries,
thereby bringing about the complete opposite of what they set out to do. This
was yet another failed attempt. Britain was the country that relied the most
upon this sense of false security because they had no allies. They believed that
colonies would provide them with allies around the world, in case of the
inevitable war, which seemed to be looming close in the future. Some even
referred to Imperialism as gearing up for war. During 1897, France was still
angry about losing the Suez Canal and Russia wanted India, so they were rapidly
encouraging France to try to take it back from England. (Tucker) From 1869 until
nearly the start of World War I, the British practiced Imperialism in Africa out
of fear of losing their empire. They took South Africa and Egypt to keep India
from being stolen, and they annexed other parts of Africa in order to compete
economically with France and Germany. They also annexed land in order to have
allies in case a war should start. The British claimed they were not, and did
not, practice Imperialism. They kept up the claim that Germany and France forced
them to do it so that they could keep their empire. Maybe so, but fear of losing
the British economic status and the British empire to Germany and France, not
Germany and France forcing Imperialism down the English people's throat, seems
to be the better answer to why the British practiced Imperialism in Africa from
1869 to 1913.
the 1870s, thanks to the influence of Livingstone (Tucker), the main reason for
British Imperialism in Africa was to bring Christianity, not to mention the
European's idea of "civilization" to African countries.
decade witnessed the heyday of self-confident, often self-congratulatory and
always aggressive Imperialism in which Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan
and the United States conquered and annexed in the name of civilization."
anything, Europe was doing the exact opposite of spreading Christianity, all
under false pretences.
British Empire is playing the devil in it as never an empire before on so large
a scale. We may live to see its fall. All the nations of Europe are making the
same hell upon earth…The Emperor of Germany gives the word for slaughter and
the Pope looks on. In South Africa our troops are burning farms under
Kitchener's command. The Queen and two houses of Parliament, and the bench of
bishops thank God publicly and vote money for the work…The French and Italians
for the moment are playing a less prominent part in the slaughter, but their
inactivity grieves them. The whole white race is reveling openly in violence, as
though it had never pretended to be Christian. (Blunt)
can any nations claim to be spreading such horrors in the name of Christianity?
It simply is infeasible and completely beyond anyone the comprehension of anyone
with any sense to their names.
Imperialism was not economically beneficial, did not protect the
"mother" country by creating barriers, nor did it spread Christianity
in mentionable portions. Nonetheless, Imperialism did bestow upon a small
portion of the elite a sense of superiority, though falsely earned. The
animosities of Imperialism did not help the people. Instead, it left them
vulnerable after the European nations had departed, and left a void in their
culture. Greed should never take over pride, and no war is justified solely
based on the fact that it is in the name of religion.