BBC - History - British History in depth: Britain, the Commonwealth and the End of Empire
To Japan, to be a modern power was to be a colonial power. China trade; he believed that a democratic China was destined to lead modern Asia. . It was the Indian army that made Britain a power of consequence in Asia. End of World War Two; Partition of India; Repairing Britain; Help from and economic independence, the real foundation of the imperial system. been mainly the work of Soviet and American power, while that of Japan Britain had lost the colony that had provided much of its military muscle. 1 Tirthankar Roy, India in the World Economy from Antiquity to the Present ( Cambridge, American, or Japanese capitalism.5 In the context of India, the usual But inside India, there remained a difference between the two.
British commerce with South America had blossomed during the Napoleonic Wars. The British therefore now favoured independence for these colonies and had little interest in helping to reimpose colonial rule, with its accompanying limitations on British trade and investment. Support for colonial independence by the British came in several ways: The British forthright position on independence, as well as the availability of the Royal Navy to support this policy, gave substance to the U.
Monroe Doctrinewhich the United States had insufficient strength at that time to really enforce. After some 15 years of uprisings and wars, Spain by no longer had any colonies in South America itself, retaining only the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.
During the same period Brazil achieved its independence from Portugal. The advantages to the British economy made possible by the consequent opening up of the Latin-American ports were eagerly pursued, facilitated by commercial treaties signed with these young nations. The reluctance of France to recognize their new status delayed French penetration of their markets and gave an advantage to the British.
In one liberated area after another, brokers and commercial agents arrived from England to ferret out business opportunities. Soon the continent was flooded with British goods, often competing with much weaker native industries. Actually, Latin America provided the largest single export market for British cotton textiles in the first half of the 19th century. Despite the absence of formal empire, the British were able to attain economic preeminence in South America.
Spanish and Portuguese colonialism had left a heritage of disunity and conflict within regions of new nations and between nations, along with conditions that led to unstable alliances of ruling elite groups.
While this combination of weaknesses militated against successful self-development, it was fertile ground for energetic foreign entrepreneursespecially those who had technically advanced manufacturing capacities, capital resources, international money markets, insurance and shipping facilities, plus supportive foreign policies.
The early orgy of speculative loans and investments soon ended. But before long, British economic penetration entered into more lasting and self-perpetuating activities, such as promoting Latin-American exports, providing railroad equipment, constructing public worksand supplying banking networks.
The emigration of European peoples European influence around the globe increased with each new wave of emigration from Europe. Tides of settlers brought with them the Old World culture and, often, useful agricultural and industrial skills. An estimated 55, Europeans left their native lands in the years afterthe product chiefly of two forces: Other factors were also clearly at work, such as the search for religious freedom, escape from tyrannical governments, avoidance of military conscription, and the desire for greater upward social and economic mobility.
Such motives had existed throughout the centuries, however, and they are insufficient to explain the massive population movements that characterized the 19th century. Unemployment induced by rapid technological changes in agriculture and industry was an important incentive for English emigration in the mids.
The surge of German emigration at roughly the same time is largely attributable to an agricultural revolution in Germany, which nearly ruined many farmers on small holdings in southwestern Germany. Under English rule, the Irish were prevented from industrial development and were directed to an economy based on export of cereals grown on small holdings.
A potato blightfollowed by famine and eviction of farm tenants by landlords, gave large numbers of Irish no alternative other than emigration or starvation. These three nationalities—English, German, and Irish—composed the largest group of migrants in the s. In later years Italians and Slavs contributed substantially to the population spillover. The emigrants spread throughout the world, but the bulk of the population transfer went to the Americas, Siberia, and Australasia.
The population outflow, greatly facilitated by European supremacy outside Europe, helped ease the social pressures and probably abated the dangers of social upheaval in Europe itself. Advance of the U. In the United Stateswhere by far the largest number of European emigrants went, acquisition of space for development by white immigrants entailed activity on two fronts: During a large part of the 19th century, the United States remained alert to the danger of encirclement by Europeans, but in addition the search for more fertile land, pursuit of the fur trade, and desire for ports to serve commerce in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans nourished the drive to penetrate the American continent.
The most pressing points of tension with European nations were eliminated during the first half of the century: The expansion of the United States, however, was not confined to liquidating rival claims of overseas empires; it also involved taking territory from neighbouring Mexico.
Diplomatic and military victories over the European nations and Mexico were but one precondition for the transcontinental expansion of the United States.
In addition, the Indian tribes sooner or later had to be rooted out to clear the new territory. At times, treaties were arranged with Indian tribes, by which vast areas were opened up for white settlement. But even where peaceful agreements had been reached, the persistent pressure of the search for land and commerce created recurrent wars with Indian tribes that were seeking to retain their homes and their land.
Room for the new settlers was obtained by forced removal of natives to as yet non-white-settled land—a process that was repeated as white settlers occupied ever more territory. Massacres during wars, susceptibility to infectious European diseases, and hardships endured during forced migrations all contributed to the decline in the Indian population and the weakening of its resistance. Nevertheless, Indian wars occupied the U.
The new imperialism c. New acquisitions The annexations during this new phase of imperial growth differed significantly from the expansionism earlier in the 19th century.
While the latter was substantial in magnitude, it was primarily devoted to the consolidation of claimed territory by penetration of continental interiors and more effective rule over indigenous populations and only secondarily to new acquisitions. On the other hand, the new imperialism was characterized by a burst of activity in carving up as yet independent areas: This new vigour in the pursuit of colonies is reflected in the fact that the rate of new territorial acquisitions of the new imperialism was almost three times that of the earlier period.
Thus, the increase in new territories claimed in the first 75 years of the 19th century averaged about 83, square milessquare kilometres a year. As against this, the colonial powers added an average of aboutsquare milessquare kilometres a year between the late s and World War I — By the beginning of that war, the new territory claimed was for the most part fully conquered, and the main military resistance of the indigenous populations had been suppressed.
Economic and political control by leading powers reached almost the entire globe, for, in addition to colonial rule, other means of domination were exercised in the form of spheres of influence, special commercial treaties, and the subordination that lenders often impose on debtor nations. New colonial powers This intensification of the drive for colonies reflected much more than a new wave of overseas activities by traditional colonial powers, including Russia.
The new imperialism was distinguished particularly by the emergence of additional nations seeking slices of the colonial pie: Indeed, this very multiplication of colonial powers, occurring in a relatively short period, accelerated the tempo of colonial growth. Unoccupied space that could potentially be colonized was limited. Therefore, the more nations there were seeking additional colonies at about the same time, the greater was the premium on speed.
Thus, the rivalry among the colonizing nations reached new heights, which in turn strengthened the motivation for preclusive occupation of territory and for attempts to control territory useful for the military defense of existing empires against rivals. The impact of the new upsurge of rivalry is well illustrated in the case of Great Britain. Relying on its economic preeminence in manufacturing, trade, and international finance as well as on its undisputed mastery of the seas during most of the 19th century, Great Britain could afford to relax in the search for new colonies, while concentrating on consolidation of the empire in hand and on building up an informal empire.
On the other hand, the more that potential colonial space shrank, the greater became the urge of lesser powers to remedy disparities in size of empires by redivision of the colonial world. The struggle over contested space and for redivision of empire generated an increase in wars among the colonial powers and an intensification of diplomatic manoeuvring.
Economic Relations Between Europe and the World: Dependence and Interdependence
But, by the last quarter of that century, Britain was confronted by restless competitors seeking a greater share of world trade and finance; the Industrial Revolution had gained a strong foothold in these nations, which were spurred on to increasing industrialization with the spread of railroad lines and the maturation of integrated national markets. Moreover, the major technological innovations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries improved the competitive potential of the newer industrial nations.
The late starters, having digested the first Industrial Revolution, now had a more equal footing with Great Britain: This new industrialism, notably featuring mass-produced steel, electric power and oil as sources of energy, industrial chemistry, and the internal-combustion enginespread over western Europe, the United States, and eventually Japan.
A world economy To operate efficiently, the new industries required heavy capital investment in large-scale units. Accordingly, they encouraged the development of capital markets and banking institutions that were large and flexible enough to finance the new enterprises. The larger capital markets and industrial enterprises, in turn, helped push forward the geographic scale of operations of the industrialized nations: Not only did the new industrialism generate a voracious appetite for raw materials, but food for the swelling urban populations was now also sought in the far corners of the world.
Advances in ship construction steamships using steel hulls, twin screws, and compound engines made feasible the inexpensive movement of bulk raw materials and food over long ocean distances.
Under the pressures and opportunities of the later decades of the 19th century, more and more of the world was drawn upon as primary producers for the industrialized nations. Self-contained economic regions dissolved into a world economy, involving an international division of labour whereby the leading industrial nations made and sold manufactured products and the rest of the world supplied them with raw materials and food.
New militarism The complex of social, political, and economic changes that accompanied the new industrialism and the vastly expanded and integrated world commerce also provided a setting for intensified commercial rivalry, the rebuilding of high tariff walls, and a revival of militarism.
Of special importance militarily was the race in naval construction, which was propelled by the successful introduction and steady improvement of radically new warships that were steam driven, armour-plated, and equipped with weapons able to penetrate the new armour. The new militarism and the intensification of colonial rivalry signalled the end of the relatively peaceful conditions of the midth century. The new imperialism also represented an intensification of tendencies that had originated in earlier periods.
Thus, for example, the decision by the United States to go to war with Spain cannot be isolated from the long-standing interest of the United States in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The defeat of Spain and the suppression of the independence revolutions in Cuba and the Philippines gave substance to the Monroe Doctrine: Possession of the Philippines was consistent with the historic interest of the United States in the commerce of the Pacific, as it had already manifested by its long interest in Hawaii annexed in and by an expedition by Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan Historiographical debate The new imperialism marked the end of vacillation over the choice of imperialist military and political policies; similar decisions to push imperialist programs to the forefront were made by the leading industrial nations over a relatively short period.
This historical conjuncture requires explanation and still remains the subject of debate among historians and social scientists. The pivot of the controversy is the degree to which the new imperialism was the product of primarily economic forces and in particular whether it was a necessary attribute of the capitalist system.
Serious analysts on both sides of the argument recognize that there is a multitude of factors involved: The problem, however, is one of assigning priority to causes. Economic imperialism The father of the economic interpretation of the new imperialism was the British liberal economist John Atkinson Hobson. In his seminal study, Imperialism, a Study first published inhe pointed to the role of such drives as patriotism, philanthropy, and the spirit of adventure in advancing the imperialist cause.
As he saw it, however, the critical question was why the energy of these active agents takes the particular form of imperialist expansion. But it was rational, indeed, in the eyes of the minority of financial interest groups.
The pressure of capital needing investment outlets arose in part from a maldistribution of income: Moreover, the practices of the larger firms, especially those operating in trusts and combines, foster restrictions on output, thus avoiding the risks and waste of overproduction. Because of this, the large firms are faced with limited opportunities to invest in expanding domestic production. The result of both the maldistribution of income and monopolistic behaviour is a need to open up new markets and new investment opportunities in foreign countries.
Japan's gigantic second world war gamble
It also examined the associated features of the new imperialism, such as political changes, racial attitudes, and nationalism. The book as a whole made a strong impression on, and greatly influenced, Marxist thinkers who were becoming more involved with the struggle against imperialism.
The most influential of the Marxist studies was a small book published by Lenin inImperialismthe Highest Stage of Capitalism. While Hobson saw the new imperialism serving the interests of certain capitalist groups, he believed that imperialism could be eliminated by social reforms while maintaining the capitalist system.
Lenin, on the other hand, saw imperialism as being so closely integrated with the structure and normal functioning of an advanced capitalism that he believed that only the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, with the substitution of Socialism, would rid the world of imperialism. Lenin placed the issues of imperialism in a context broader than the interests of a special sector of the capitalist class. According to Lenin, capitalism itself changed in the late 19th century; moreover, because this happened at pretty much the same time in several leading capitalist nations, it explains why the new phase of capitalist development came when it did.
This new phase, Lenin believed, involves political and social as well as economic changes; but its economic essence is the replacement of competitive capitalism by monopoly capitalism, a more advanced stage in which finance capital, an alliance between large industrial and banking firms, dominates the economic and political life of society.
Competition continues, but among a relatively small number of giants who are able to control large sectors of the national and international economy. It is this monopoly capitalism and the resulting rivalry generated among monopoly capitalist nations that foster imperialism; in turn, the processes of imperialism stimulate the further development of monopoly capital and its influence over the whole society.
Like Hobson, Lenin maintained that the increasing importance of capital exports is a key figure of imperialism, but he attributed the phenomenon to much more than pressure from an overabundance of capital. He also saw the acceleration of capital migration arising from the desire to obtain exclusive control over raw material sources and to get a tighter grip on foreign markets.
But he was not prepared to go to war for it. Nor were the British. Instead they supplied Chongqing by air and road over the "Hump" from British Burma. He considered Chiang a "stubborn bugger", reluctant to commit Chinese armies to battle, but Stilwell under-estimated Chiang's wiliness in drawing the Japanese into a long, costly war they could not win.
Japan now felt even more tightly encircled by the ABCD powers: The Netherlands East Indies was the best available source of oil for the war effort in China: Borneo and South Sumatra produced more than eight million tonnes a year. But blocking Japan's path to it was the British "fortress" of Singapore. On 27 SeptemberJapan entered into a fateful tripartite pact with Germany and Italy. For Japan, Wilhelmine Germany had been a model for a modernising, martial monarchy.
As Japanese politics lurched to the right, fascism too seemed a "kindred spirit". Both Germany and Japan spoke of shattering and remoulding the international order. But Japanese leaders were motivated by a deeper conviction that Emperor Hirohito was to be the nucleus of a new regional cosmology: After the fall of Paris, Japan occupied French Indochina to cut off a supply route to Chongqing and as a springboard to the south.
But the European war presented new obstacles to Japan's destiny in Asia. It caused the United States to expand its navy and to look more sympathetically upon the British empire in Asia, to help Britain fight on in Europe.
Crucially, the occupation of Indochina was met by crippling economic sanctions from the United States and the west, effectively cutting off Japan's imports of oil. In late andas positions hardened and diplomacy failed, the argument was voiced in Tokyo that only by war could these obstacles be overcome. As Japan's militant new prime minster Hideki Tojo told an imperial conference on 5 November The British had long expected this, but failed to launch their planned pre-emptive strike into neutral Thailand, so-called Operation Matador.
What was not foreseen was the simultaneous strike by air and sea at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This achieved the short-term goal of removing the immediate threat of the US Pacific fleet.
The British in Malaya viewed the Japanese with racist contempt. But British, Australian and Indian troops were confronted by hardened veterans of the China war, advancing 20km a day by bicycle. Allied forces fell back into Singapore with a speed that did not allow them to regroup and counter-attack effectively. But "fortress Singapore" was a myth. Reinforcements poured into Singapore, only to witness in disgust the scorched earth destruction of the naval base they had been sent to defend.
The brutal reality was that for Churchill and the chiefs of staff in London, the first call on war materials was the Mediterranean theatre. Churchill ordered the garrison to fight and die to the last man. But at the hour of the final assault on Singapore town, fearing a wholesale slaughter of civilians, local commanders were given leave to surrender on 15 February The campaign had lasted only 70 days.
Lost armies Without pause, the Japanese pressed on into the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagos. The Australian cabinet demanded the recall of their troops. Many of them were among the 85, soldiers marched into captivity in Singapore. The entire colonial order in Asia was incarcerated. Of theprisoners of war, 35, died in captivity. But these figures do not include the Asian soldiers captured, the 45, Filipinos who fought with the Americans, or some 40, Indians in Singapore.
Abandoned by their European officers, the Indians were presented with a huge moral dilemma. It seemed as if the British had "handed them over like cattle", and many were now recruited into a new Indian national army to fight alongside Japan for India's liberation.
British prestige in Asia was shattered by the abandonment of its people. The ugly evacuation of Europeans was, as one British nurse in Penang put it, "a thing that I am sure will never be forgotten or forgiven". Convinced that the British empire was on the point of collapse, Japan attacked Burma from Thailand. The initial aim was limited: But it became all-out conquest. British reluctance to call on the Chinese to save the British empire meant that intervention by Chinese forces under Stilwell came too late.
As the British retreated, one of the largest displacements of people in history occurred as aroundIndian refugees fled west to Bengal; as many as 80, of them died on the wayside.
It was the Indian army that made Britain a power of consequence in Asia. During the war, more than two million Indians were recruited to arms.
- India–Japan relations
- Britain, the Commonwealth and the End of Empire
- France–India relations
The "Quit India" protests of were a challenge on a scale not seen since the great rebellion of This applied both to technological and commercial innovations, the latter primarily originating in Italy.
Migration and communication were the real accelerating factors of European history.
The specific mix of Italian city states, principalities, bishoprics, kingdoms, etc. The "permanent incongruence" of economic, political and cultural factors explains the competitive dynamic of the continent. The advanced system of education and the early institutionalization of centres of artisanal and early-industrial training and production also played their part.
The liberalization of trade, craftsmanship and industrial labour, as well as the emergence of parliamentary democracy provided an essential basis for the generation of economic growth, which was accompanied from the 18th century by an impressive growth in population. The restless search for new knowledge which was a central feature of modern humanism and the enlightenment gave the Old Continent its unmistakeable appearance.
As mediators between worlds, merchants often maintained their own courier services. For example, the Fuggers maintained a system of couriers between Augsburg and Venice in the 16th century. Per capita incomes and the standard of living rose much more quickly in these regions than elsewhere. However, the rapid industrialisation of Central, Western and Northern Europe required considerable resources.
In the 19th century, coal replaced wood as the main source of energy. In the 20th century, oil largely replaced coal. Electricity, generated hydro-electrically, as well as coal, oil, nuclear energy and solar energy emerged as the most adaptable form of energy which was available almost everywhere.
The transportation of this energy played an increasingly important role in international trade. Great BritainGermany and France. Inthe last year in the first half of the 20th century which can be described as a "normal year", these three countries dominated large sections of the global economy.
In this context, it is possible to speak of an "oligopolization" of the global economy, on which — along with the USA — these three states exerted the greatest influence. While these three countries contained less than half of the population of Europe, they accounted for approximately three quarters of Europe's industrial production and three quarters of all trade between Europe and the rest of the world. The high productivity levels of their economies were clearly reflected in the structure of their trade, i.
As a result, these countries dominated the international flow of capital and direct foreign investment in the years before the First World War. In the absence of supranational economic institutions, Great Britain, which in London provided the central capital market of the world, in effect ensured that the global economy continued to function.
However, it proved impossible to resurrect this system after the First World War. InBritain forfeited its policy of free trade and gave precedence to the Commonwealth. Economic policy in the Third Reich followed Hjalmar Schacht's — Neuer Plan, with a series of discriminatory measures and a reorientation of foreign trade towards Eastern Europe and Latin America.
France tried to improve matters by binding public and private capital together in so-called mixed companies in the key industries. Italy, Austriathe Federal Republic of GermanyFrance and the other democratic states committed themselves to liberal, free market economics and social democracy, while PolandBulgariaRomaniaCzechoslovakiaHungary and East Germany adopted the centrally planned economy model of the Soviet Unionuntil this system was brought to an end by the people through a peaceful revolution after 45 years.
Even before this, the view had gained acceptance that the innovation-oriented system of free market economics was superior to the more static concept of central planning and dictatorial management, and there had been signs of the approaching dissolution of the latter. The reunified Germany and the "old" European axis powers were then able to agree new European economic, currency, and trade policies under the auspices of European supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe and the European Central Bank.
The establishment of a customs union in was a decisive step towards further integration. The European Union EUwhich had 12 members in and increased to 27 indeveloped into one of the strongest economic powers in the world beside the USA, Japan and China.
With the European Central Bank and the Euro, the European Union established a uniform legal means of payment, which increasingly became a kind of reserve currency alongside the American dollar.
Phases of Different Intensity and Concentration in Growth and Trade The expansion of European overseas trade did not occur in a linear fashion. Qualitatively and quantitatively, the 12th and 13th centuries, and the 16th and early 17th centuries were periods of strong commercial growth.
Conversely, the 14th and 15th centuries, the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century must be viewed as phases of weaker or stagnating economic growth. In the 12th and 13th centuries, increasing sea-borne traffic in the Mediterranean provided a significant stimulus to transcontinental trade.
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Similarly, the phase of growth in transcontinental trade in the 16th century was accompanied by advances in Atlantic and intercontinental shipping. In the High Middle Ages, trade was also stimulated by the transportation of goods by caravan from regions in the Far East to Central Asia and finally to Eurasia.
While European trade over land grew very slowly or stagnated in the late Middle Ages, trade between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea Hanseand between the ports of the North Sea particularly Bruges and the ports of northern and central Italy increased considerably.
Growth was clearly driven by maritime expansion. Those who controlled the ocean had a position of hegemony in intercontinental mercantilist trade. However, this could not fully compensate for the decrease in trade over land during the periods of weakness. In general, trade and economic development now occurred primarily in the central ports and their surrounding regions along the coasts of the European mainland.
On the contrary, during the great depression in the 14th and 15th centuries, the conquests of the Turks and, in particular, the Mongol Tatars deprived European trade of access to important markets in the Levant. During the second period of weak economic growth in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, European overseas trade did not begin to expand significantly again until after the Portuguese-Spanish colonial empire had been replaced by the Dutch-British empire. This involved a certain shift of geographical focus, but it was essentially based on simple trade and exchange at garrisons and coastal bases, as well as plantation agriculture, which bore characteristics of slash-and-burn economics.
From the midth century, both transcontinental and sea-borne trade experienced strong growth.