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Cecil Rhodes: Cape-Cairo railway project. Founded the De Beers Mining Company and owned the British South Africa Company, which established Rhodesia for itself. He liked to "paint the map British red," and declared: "all of these stars ... these vast worlds that remain out of reach. If I could, I would annex other planets."[1]

Imperialism is autocratic, and also sometimes monolithic [2] in character. While the term imperialism often refers to a political or geographical domain such as the Ottoman Empire[3] the Russian Empire,[4] or the British Empire,[5] etc., the term can equally be applied to domains of knowledge, beliefs, values and expertise, such as the empires of Christianity (see Christendom)[6] or Islam (see Caliphate).[7]


[edit] Overview

Imperialism is found in the ancient histories of the Assyrian Empire, Roman Empire, Greece, the Persian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire (see Ottoman wars in Europe), ancient Egypt, India, the Aztec empire, and a basic component to the conquests of Genghis Khan and other warlords. Although imperialist practices have existed for thousands of years, the term "Age of Imperialism" generally refers to the activities of nations such as Britain, Japan, and Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, e.g. the "Scramble for Africa" and the "Open Door Policy" in China.

The word itself is derived from the Latin verb imperare (to command) and the Roman concept of imperium, while the actual term 'Imperialism' was coined in the sixteenth century,[8] reflecting what are now seen as the imperial policies of Portugal, Spain, Britain, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Imperialism not only describes colonial, territorial policies, but also economic and/or military dominance and influence.

[edit] Definitions from some other sources

Definition 3 in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary (2007) is particularly apropos to our second (attitude) meaning above ; and also to the issue of how far non-military and not-overtly-territorial control can be called imperialism:

[Imperialism:] The belief in the desirability of the acquisition of colonies and dependencies, or the extension of a country's influence through trade, diplomacy, etc. Usu. derog.

Also on the issue of non-military control, we have this from the first paragraph of the article, "Imperialism," in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (second edition):

. . . Commonly associated with the policy of direct extension of sovereignty and dominion over non-contiguous and often distant overseas territories, it also denotes indirect political or economic control of powerful states over weaker peoples. Regarded also as a doctrine based on the use of deliberate force, imperialism has been subject to moral censure by its critics, and thus the term is frequently used in international propaganda as a pejorative for expansionist and aggressive foreign policy. (End of paragraph.)

The following passage, from Wm. Roger Louis, Imperialism (1976) is also informative. He is discussing an influential theory of 19th century European imperialism by the historians John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson:

More specifically, Robinson and Gallagher attack the traditional notion that "imperialism" is the formal rule or control by one people or nation over others. In their view, historians have been mesmerized by formal empire and maps of the world with regions colored red. The bulk of British emigration, trade, and capital went to areas outside the formal British Empire. A key to the thought of Robinson and Gallagher is the idea of empire "informally if possible and formally if necessary." [This last phrase referring to the fact that the British government was often reluctant to entangle itself with formal colonies. -- Wikipedia.][9]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ S. Gertrude Millin, Rhodes, London, 1933, p.138
  2. ^ John Rees, Imperialism: globalisation, the state and war, International Socialism Journal 93, Winter 2001
  3. ^ Ottoman Empire, Encyclopedia of the Orient
  4. ^ The Empire that was Russia, Library of Congress
  5. ^ The British Empire
  6. ^ John B Cobb, Christianity and Empire,
  7. ^ Islam Empire of Faith
  8. ^ Oxford English Dictionary online (subscription required
  9. ^ Louis, Page 4.

[edit] Further reading

  • Guy Ankerl, Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharatai, Chinese, and Western, Geneva, INU PRESS, 2000, ISBN 2-88155-004-5.
  • Robert Bickers/Christian Henriot, New Frontiers: Imperialism's New Communities in East Asia, 1842-1953, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-7190-5604-7
  • Barbara Bush, Imperialism and Postcolonialism (History: Concepts,Theories and Practice), Longmans, 2006, ISBN 0582505836
  • John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000, Penguin Books, 2008, ISBN 0141010223
  • Niall Ferguson, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, Penguin Books, 2004, ISBN 0141007540
  • Michael Hardt and Toni Negri, Empire, Harvard University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-674-00671-2
  • E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914, Abacus Books, 1989, ISBN 0349105987
  • E J Hobsbawm, On Empire: America, War, and Global Supremacy, Pantheon Books, 2008, ISBN 0375425373
  • J A Hobson, Imperialism: A Study, Cosimo Classics, 2005, ISBN 1596052503
  • Michael Hudson, Super Imperialism: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance, Pluto Press, 2003, ISBN 0745319890
  • V I Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, International Publishers, New York, 1997, ISBN 0717800989
  • Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, Vintage Books, 1998, ISBN 0099967502
  • Simon C Smith, British Imperialism 1750-1970, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 052159930X

[edit] External links

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