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4) “New imperialism was a nationalistic, not an economic phenomenon.” Critically examine.(250 words)

Topic: Part of static series under the heading – “World History”

4) “New imperialism was a nationalistic, not an economic phenomenon.” Critically examine.(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what new imperialism is and post that, examine the factors that led to its rise and continuation. We have to debate whether there were only nationalistic imperatives or whether economic imperatives led to its rise. Finally we need to provide our fair and balanced opinion.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that new imperialism was a period of colonial expansion and its accompanying ideology by the European powers, USA, Japan etc during the late 19th and early 20th century.


  • First, explain why new imperialism can be considered as a nationalistic phenomenan. The later part of the 19th century was a period of intense Nationalism. Nationalism came to be also created with Chauvinism. Many nations developed myths of their superiority over other people. Each one felt that it too, must have colonies to add to its prestige and power. Imperialism became the fashion of the age.  Writers and speakers in England, France and Germany opened institutions to promote the idea of imperialism, and took great pride in calling their territories empires. Imperialist countries took over some places in Asia and Africa because of their military or strategic importance. The imperialist nations established naval bases and coaling stations to strengthen her overseas empire. Rival nations got similar base elsewhere. Acquiring a colony also had a chain reaction. If a country needed a colony, it needed another to protect it and so on. Overseas possessions were also useful because they added to an imperialist country’s manpower. Some of the people of the colonized countries were taken into the enemy, for use in wars and conquests.
  • Discuss the economic imperatives of new imperialism – New Imperialism was as economic as it was nationalistic. The imperial countries acquired colonies because the colonies served their economic referents. The industrial Revolution resulted in a very great increase in the production of goods. It also created the capitates system of production. The production of goods was far in excess of the demand at home. So capitalist countries had to find new markets and buyers for the goods their industries were producing. The possibilities of one industrialized country were also limited. European countries could find markets for their surplus goods in Asia and Africa. In addition to the markets, the imperial powers needed new sources of raw-materials to feed over growing number of industries. For attaining this objective, the imperial powers established their colonial stronghold over parts of Asia and Africa and patrolled the areas among themselves.

Conclusion – give a fair and balanced conclusion on following lines – New Imperialism thus was fed on as much as nationalism as on economic forces. It was not either Nationalism or economic considerations alone but the two acting in tandem that drove New Imperialism.