Old Imperialism vs New Imperialism

Imperialism is a practice that occurred in the past and has, inexorably, over the years, reoccurred in different regions around the world. Most regions in the world have, in one way or the other, been affected by this sway of political power and economic dominance generally exercised by powerful countries like England, Spain, France, etc.

When examined by the book, you’ll understand the interest these powerful countries had in the expansion of their geographies, revolution, and nationalism is what originally pushed them to take over new regions. Religious and economic causes have also influenced the spread (and resurgence) of imperialism in many of these countries (K12 Inc, 2013).

Old imperialism was a type of imperialism that occurred in the middle of the nineteenth century. This European imperialism was chiefly motivated by the drive to make money and was originally handled by some commercial organizations.

Old imperialism was generally sustained and supported by the governments of the European countries where these companies came from, and this was a result of these countries’ interest to expand their empire (Smith, 1982).

When trade became unprofitable in the nineteenth century, powerful governments converted their commercial interests to the territorial conquests of weaker regions. After dominating these territories, they enforced taxation.

Later, these governments took over the administration of these territories from the companies after discovering that many of the territories had natural resources that could be exploited and converted to money.

New imperialism, on the other hand, was chiefly motivated by the Industrial Revolution, the thirst for technological advancements as well as the drive for trade. It was a more improved stage of Western expansion and domination (more refined and subtle).

After the governments took over the administration of these rich territories, new imperialism started. Governments, for the reasons of commercial gain, and national power, took over these territories. At the Berlin conference, territories were divided among the then superpowers and natural resources, which belonged to these territories, were seized (Michael-Matsas, 2008).

These territories became colonies and they started functioning as trade centres for refined resources and manufactured goods.

So, to fully understand the concepts of old and new imperialism, let us examine the points of convergence and divergence between them. In the next section, our focus will be on the similarities and differences between old imperialism and new imperialism (Kettle & Sutton, 2013).

Old and new imperialism were both motivated by the desire to gain power and control over trade territories and their profitable resources. The goal was to secure these locations, seize their resources and convert them for commercial purposes.

Territories were conquered and powers were centrally established by these powerful empires for nationalistic reasons. These governments were both authorized by dictation and non-representative methods that promised civilization and the establishment of order.

The economies of these empires were integrated into the conquered regions. New territories were created to function as trade centres concerned with the export and import of manufactured products to and from other regions in the world.

Both imperialism sustained the degradation of man. The Slave trade was sustained and social and racial segregation were encouraged to pronounce the class system that exists in society today.

Strict class lines were developed to institute cultural, social and political inequalities between peoples and institutions. The case of Apartheid in South Africa is a confirmation of this in Africa.

Policies were created to frustrate the locals and force them to do the biddings of the government. The need for social reform was ignored and an increase in racism and paternalistic inequalities.

This imperialism brought great development and improvement in the affairs of the conquered territories as promised by the governments. However, the governments imposed systems of exploitation to forcefully take over the wealth of these regions and divert it for the use of other regions.

These imperialisms brought education and the spread of religion. Religious groups were introduced to guide the locals’ loyalties to the Western governments.

Old imperialism was primarily concerned with the expansion of territories for the sole purpose of establishing power and dominance over other regions (Michael-Matsas, 2008).

New imperialism, on the other hand, exploited invaluable resources to make large profits at minimum risks. The exportation and importation of goods were increased and colonies were established to function as markets for trade activities conducted by the governments.

Old imperialism brought with it the Roman Catholic missionaries and zeal. The church also worked for hand in hand with the government in providing education for the indigenes.

New imperialism brought Protestant missionaries and humanitarianism. The belief that we are made for one another.

The features of old imperialism were primarily focused on the colonization of coastal regions in Africa, Asia, and North America. New imperialism, as a result of the Berlin conference, took over new regions and divided them up between interested powerful countries.

Smaller colonies were created for the administration of these territories. And this brought about an increase in racism, social segregation, human degradation, and European superiority.

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