Ch 16 Origins of the World War

CH.16-ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR

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CHAPTER XVI: ORIGINS OF THE WORLD WAR

SECTION 1: IMPERIALISM

 

PREVIOUS SECTIONS SHOW THE GROWTH OF BRITISH POWER IN THE WORLD AND HOW COLONIAL EXPANSION TRANSFORMED THE ECONOMIC STRUCTURE OF BRITISH CAPITALISM.

FIRST, INDIA, THEN CANADA, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND. LASTLY, THE DIVISION OF AFRICA AND THE PACIFIC ISLANDS.

IN 1860, POSSESSIONS COVERED 2.5 MILLION SQUARE MILES AND 145 MILLION PEOPLE. BY 1880, IT HAD INCREASED TO 7.7 MILLION SQUARE MILES WITH 268 MILLION INHABITANTS. BY 1899, IT WAS 11.6 MILLION SQUARE MILES AND 345 MILLION PEOPLE.

BY 1900, THE GREAT POWERS’ COLONIALISATION OF THE WORLD WAS ALMOST COMPLETE, AND THE AGE OF IMPERIALISM HAD BEGUN.

THE BRITISH ECONOMY ACQUIRED A NEW BASIS.

INSTEAD OF THE OLD INDUSTRIAL MONOPOLY, THERE WAS A COMPLETE COLONIAL MONOPOLY EXTENDING TO VAST ‘BACKWARD’ REGIONS TO SECURE NOT ONLY EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FOR EXPORT OF ARTICLES, BUT ALSO CONSUMPTION AS A MEANS OF PRODUCTION AND CAPITAL.

THIS IS CLEARLY SHOWN IN INDIA, EGYPT AND ELSEWHERE BY THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LINK BETWEEN THE COLONIES AND HEAVY INDUSTRY, WHICH HAS SO OFTEN BEEN STRESSED.

IMPERIALISM IS OFTEN USED LOOSELY BUT LENIN DESCRIBED IT AS:

1. THE CONCENTRATION OF PRODUCTION AND CAPITAL DEVELOPED TO SUCH A HIGH STAGE THAT IT CREATES MONOPOLIES, WHICH PLAY A DECISIVE ROLE IN ECONOMIC LIFE.

2. THE MERGING OF BANK CAPITAL WITH INDUSTRIAL CAPITAL, AND THE CREATION OF A FINANCIAL OLIGARCHY ON THE BASIS OF THIS ‘FINANCE CAPITAL’.

3. THE EXPORT OF CAPITAL, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE EXPORT OF COMMODITIES, BECOMES OF PARTICULARLY GREAT IMPORTANCE.

4. INTERNATIONAL MONOPOLY COMBINES OF CAPITALISTS ARE FORMED, WHICH DIVIDE UP THE WORLD.

5. THE TERRITORIAL DIVISION OF THE WORLD BY THE GREATEST CAPITALIST POWERS IS COMPLETE.

LENIN DATED THE ARRIVAL OF IMPERIALISM AS 1900 AND DESCRIBED ITS KEY FEATURE AS ‘MONOPOLY’.

IN BRITAIN, IMPERIALISM WAS DEFINED BY THE IRON AND STEEL INDUSTRIES, CHEMICALS, SOAP, MARGARINE, RAILWAYS AND BANKS AND BY NAMES SUCH AS ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH, DORMAN LONG, VICKERS, MORGAN AND BARCLAYS BANKS, LEVER AND UNILEVER AND ICI.

HOWEVER, IN THE OLDER INDUSTRIES OF TEXTILES AND COAL MINING REMAINED RELATIVELY BACKWARD WITH OUTDATED PLANT, INSUFFICIENT CAPITAL AND METHODS, WHICH MADE IT DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO COMPETE WITH THE RIVAL INDUSTRIES OF GERMANY AND THE USA.

A FEATURE OF IMPERIALISM WAS THE EXPORT OF CAPITAL IN THE FORM OF LOANS AND INVESTMENTS, WHICH IS LINKED TO TERRITORIAL EXPANSION: IN 1900, THERE WAS £2,000 MILLION, FROM WHICH AN ANNUAL INCOME OF £100 MILLION WAS DRAWN; BY 1914 THESE FIGURES HAD DOUBLED.

INVESTMENT IN RAILWAYS TOOK THE LARGEST SUM OF £1,700 MILLION AND PROVIDED AN INCOME OF £83 MILLION.

BRITISH INVESTMENTS WERE DIVIDED BY SIX TO FIVE BETWEEN EMPIRE AND OUTSIDE THE EMPIRE (SOUTH AMERICA AND ARGENTINA IN PARTICULAR).

INTEREST WAS OFTEN PAID IN KIND: FOODSTUFFS AND RAW MATERIALS. THIS SUM TOTAL EXCEEDED THE PROFITS DERIVED FROM BRITAIN’S FOREIGN TRADE.

BRITAIN BECAME A PARASITE, WITH CAPITAL THE DETERMINING FACTOR.

HER HOME INDUSTRIES DECLINED, AND THERE WAS LARGE SCALE UNEMPLOYMENT AND CYCLICAL CRISES ONLY CUT SHORT BY THE OUTBREAK OF WAR.

THE EXPORT OF CAPITAL INCREASED THE SIZE OF ENTERPRISES AND ALSO THE NUMBER OF PASSIVE SHAREHOLDERS.

THE TYPICAL CAPITALIST WAS NOW NO LONGER A FACTORY OWNER RUNNING HIS OWN BUSINESS AND MAKING A DEFINITE CONTRIBUTION OF HIS OWN KNOWLEDGE AND ENERGY TO INDUSTRY, BUT A SHAREHOLDER DRAWING DIVIDENDS AND CONTRIBUTING ONLY CAPITAL.

CAPITAL THEREFORE CAME INTO THE HANDS OF A SMALLER NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS WHOSE HOLDINGS WERE RELATIVELY SMALL, AND INTERLOCKING DIRECTORSHIPS LED TO AN INTERPENETRATION OF FINANCE CAPITAL, CONCENTRATING AN INCREASING POWER IN THE HANDS OF THE BANKERS.

ANOTHER SYMPTOM OF PARASITIC BRITAIN WAS THE SLOW PROGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT COMPARED TO OUR RIVALS, GERMANY AND THE USA.

THE THREE COUNTRIES TOOK DIFFERENT PATHS TO IMPERIALISM.

BRITAIN ADOPTED TERRITORIAL EXPANSION AND THE EXPORT OF CAPITAL AND ONLY PASSED THE MONOPOLY STAGE LATE AND UNEVENLY.

THE USA HAD A VAST AND FAIRLY UNIFORM HINTERLAND IN WHICH TO EXPAND AND BEGAN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF INTERNAL MONOPOLY (STANDARD OIL TRUST IN 1882). IT ONLY BEGAN AS A COLONIAL POWER AND AN EXPORTER OF CAPITAL IN 1898, WITH THE START OF THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR.

GERMANY HAD NEITHER COLONIES NOR HINTERLAND AND SET ABOUT AN ATTACK ON WORLD MARKETS ON THE BASIS OF DELIBERATE REGIMENTATION OF HOME INDUSTRY. A FORM OF STATE CAPITALISM.

BRITAIN DEPENDED ON HER EXPORT TRADE FOR INCREASING IMPORTS OF FOOD AND RAW MATERIALS, WHILE GERMANY AND THE USA DEVELOPED AN ELABORATE SCREEN OF PROTECTIVE TARIFFS.

BRITAIN FOUND HERSELF OUT DISTANCED, EVEN THOUGH FIRST ON THE SCENE, IN COAL, IRON AND STEEL PRODUCTION.

BIGGER PROFITS WERE TO BE HAD ELSEWHERE, AND OUR INDUSTRY DECLINED.

UP TO 1900, AS THE OTHER MOST ACTIVE COLONISING POWER, FRANCE WAS OUR MOST FREQUENT THORN FOR CONFLICT. AFTER 1900, IT WAS GERMANY THAT TOOK OUR MARKETS.

APART FROM INVOLVEMENT IN SOUTH AMERICA, THE USA DID NOT ENTER WORLD POLITICS UNTIL THE 1914-18 WAR.

MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE WEST INDIES HAD ALREADY FALLEN WITHIN THE SPHERE OF AMERICAN INFLUENCE.

THE PARTIONING OF THE WORLD WAS COMPLETE, BUT NOT WITHOUT CONFLICTS AND THE THREAT OF MORE.

BRITAIN AND FRANCE SECURED THE RICHEST BOOTY IN AFRICA, ASIA AND AUSTRALASIA. AS LATECOMERS, GERMANY AND ITALY HAD TO BE CONTENT WITH THE LESS DESIRABLE PICKINGS.

IN THE FAR EAST, RUSSIA AND JAPAN EYED EACH OTHER OVER KOREA AND MANCHURIA.

IT WAS BECOMING CLEAR THAT THE EXISTING DIVISION OF SPOILS COULD NOT BE PERMANENT, AS IT HAD BEEN MADE ON THE BACK OF THE 19th CENTURY AND NO LONGER CORRESPONDED TO THE REALITIES OF THE 20th CENTURY.

THE UNEQUAL DIVISION BETWEEN GERMAN AND BRITISH GAINS EXTENDED TO THE BALKANS, WHERE GERMANY’S TRADE SHARE INCREASED AND EXCEEDED BRITAINS.

THIS OCCURRED IN SOUTH AMERICA TOO AND IN THE DECAYING TURKISH EMPIRE.

EVEN WITHIN THE BRITISH EMPIRE, GERMANY WAS GAINING GROUND AT THE EXPENSE OF BRITAIN.

SINCE THERE WERE NO TERRITORIES LEFT TO CAPTURE, A REDIVISION OF THE WORLD COULD ONLY BE EFFECTED BY WAR: WAR ON A GIGANTIC SCALE, SINCE THIS WAS A QUESTION WHICH CONCERNED ALL THE GREAT POWERS.

IT IS IN THE ZIG-ZAG PATH BY WHICH THIS WAR WAS REACHED THAT THE MAIN INTEREST OF THE HISTORY OF THE YEARS BETWEEN 1900 AND 1914 LIES

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