The Conquest of Africa Imperialism: Theory and Practice • Political penetration of the African continent by European powers resulted in the separation of all the lands south of the Sahara (with the exception of the Republic of Liberia and Ethiopia) • The process of imperial conquest related to the contradictions within capitalist economy and society in Europe as well as events in Africa (straight quote) • The discussion has been dominated by Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism • Lenin considered that capitalism had developed in the late 19 th century into a new and distinct phase because oligopolies were beginning to form especially in the coal and steel industries in the U.S. and Germany o Logical sequence of events which resulted from the concentration and centralization of power, capital and wealth Something Marx had already written about and foretold • All intellectuals agreed this was happening and believed that this concentration would “lead in turn to an internationally interlocked and pacifist-minded capitalist class, increasingly uninterested in war or aggressive competition” (p. 84) • Lenin, however, believed it would created ruthless monopolies that could influence the state to meet their demands • The increasing number of monopolies meant that the rate of profit within industrialized capitalist states declined • Financial companies were unable to find good investments locally, so they had to look elsewhere – internationally, at non-capitalist states • There were a large number of economic advantages to expanding imperialist states – creation of new markets, expanding trade and acquiring raw materials such as rubber and tin for newer industries • The result of this was a threatened partition and re-partition of the world by great political powers (e.g. America vs. Soviet Union) • Slogans based on chauvinism (deep-rooted patriotism) won over the support for imperialism by a ‘labour aristocracy’ o Labour aristocracy were a group of people who thrived on imperialism because companies would pay workers in less-developed countries less and use the money saved to pay workers at home more, thus reducing the home workers’ inclination towards a proletarian revolution (overthrowing the bourgeoisie) because they were satisfied with their living standards • John Hobson: English, anti-imperialist social reformer • Hobson deplored ‘coupon clippers’ : people who could live idly off their investments and simply pressure the state government to act in their interests in foreign matters • Hobson believed capitalism had gone soft and decadent • Note: African trade never became crucial to the European economy and investment by capitalist firms in Africa never developed to a very large extent. It is claimed Lenin ignored the non-economic motives of imperialism which justifies the Imperialists’ actions in Africa
• Imperialism is also linked to militarism, racism and nationalism – not just the economy •
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- Fall '11
- Imperialism, United Africa Company, Lenin’s Imperialism