World History 2 133 - 9.2 Motives and Means of Imperialism

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify the main reasons imperialism grew during the Second Industrial Revolution
  • Contrast late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century imperialism with that of earlier periods
  • Explain how industrial development helped some countries conquer and control others in the second half of the nineteenth century

Like a chain of falling dominoes, industrial development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had many consequences, short and long term. To generate profits for themselves and their investors, businesses needed to operate inexpensively and sell as many goods as possible. To keep costs and therefore prices low, they sought inexpensive raw materials. They also wanted markets in which to sell their finished goods, preferably without competing with others. The ships that transported raw materials and finished products required ports where they could refuel and resupply, as did the navies that kept them safe.

To the industrial powers, these needs justified their practice of imperialism, that is, the policy of gaining direct or indirect control over parts of the world with low-cost resources and no competing mass-produced goods. Improved forms of transportation, communication, weaponry, and medicine made this control possible. As the industrialized nations came to dominate states in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, taking natural resources and money from them, they sent not only soldiers and administrators but also missionaries to introduce the inhabitants to Christianity and other aspects of western culture, often against their will.

The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 2: from 1400 textbook by Openstax