The High Tide of Imperialism

The High Tide of Imperialism

Did not the rise of nationalism help drive imperialism?

Nationalism comes intricately bound to imperialism both politically and economically and was a potent factor that influenced imperialism. The concept of survival for the fittest and the white man’s burden obligations contributed to this leading to an extension of imperialism (Osterhammel, 2014).

The political prestige in having numerous colonies made imperialism to become a race to acquire more in the spirit of nationalism. The desire to dominate helped fuel imperialism and as a political result as they considered themselves superior and also believed they had the duty to enlighten the uncivilized (Osterhammel, 2014). This fuelled imperialism by fostering unification of the European powers to further their control and dominance through non-wars (Osterhammel, 2014).

Why did increasing numbers of ordinary Europeans become fans of the expansion of their nation?

They were convinced that the ownership of colonies was an indication of a country’s greatness or were status symbols (Osterhammel, 2014). They would be exempted from the provision of labor in the various industries since cheap and readily available labor would be acquired from the territories held. This is because they would benefit from this expansion, especially the trade on a global level which was not restricted to any rules as they made the rules themselves. Some of them also would be involved in the political control of the territories acquired. They would be made administrators in the acquired regions to protect the nations’ interests (Osterhammel, 2014).

How did they learn about the exploits of their general, explorers, traders, and merchants?

Through the rapid expansion of trade activities and markets, the Europeans started knowing about these exploits. Missionaries that had been sent to the territories to promote western superiority and civilize the people also brought back this information (Osterhammel, 2014). Writers and artists also started to illustrate these exploits in their work as a way of rejecting this approach of nationalism and imperialism through interaction with their trade partners from other countries.


Osterhammel, J. (2014). The transformation of the world: a global history of the nineteenth century. Princeton University Press.

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