Industrialization And Imperialism

Industrialization And Western Global Hegemony
Industrialization And Imperialism
Author: Schwartz, Stuart B.
Date: 1992

Patterns Of Dominance: Continuity And Change

By the end of the 19th century, the European colonial order was made up
of two, quite different, kinds of colonies. The greater portion of the
European empires consisted of "true" colonies in Africa, Asia, and the South
Pacific in which small numbers of Europeans ruled large numbers of non-Western
peoples. The true colonies represented a vast extension of the pattern of
dominance the British, Dutch, and French had worked out earlier in India,
Java, and African enclaves such as Senegal. Most of these had been brought,
often quite suddenly, under European rule in the last decades of the 19th
century and the first years of the 20th century. The following sections
devoted to this form of colonization focus on the new forms of colonial rule
and changing patterns of social interaction between colonizer and colonized
that emerged in the decades of imperialist expansion before World War I.

Settlement colonies made up the second major type of European overseas
possession, but within this type there were two different patterns of European
settlement and indigenous response. The first pattern was exhibited by
colonies such as Canada and Australia, which the British labeled the "White
Dominions." The White Dominions accounted for a good portion of the land area
but only a tiny minority of the population of Britain's global empire. The
descendants of European settlers made up the overwhelming majority of the
population in these colonies, in which small numbers of native inhabitants had
been decimated by diseases and wars of conquest. These patterns of substantial
European settlement and the precipitous decline of the indigenous population
were also found in those portions of North America that came to form the
United States. Though Canada and Australia remained within the British Empire,
each moved steadily toward self-government and parliamentary rule in the late
19th century.

In some areas where large numbers of Europeans had migrated, a second
major variation on the settlement type of colony developed. Both in regions
that had been colonized as early as North America, such as South Africa, and
in those the Europeans and Americans had begun to occupy only in the mid- or
late 19th century, such as Algeria, Kenya, New Zealand, and Hawaii, the key
demographic characteristics of both the settler and the "true" colonies were
combined. Temperate climates and relatively mild disease environments in these
areas made it possible for tens or hundreds of thousands of Europeans to
settle on a permanent basis. Despite the Europeans' arrival, large indigenous
populations survived and then began to increase rapidly. As a result, in these
areas for which the label contested settler colonies seems most apt, Europeans
and indigenous peoples increasingly clashed over land rights, resource
control, social status, and cultural differences. From the 19th century
onward, the history of contested settler societies has been dominated by the
interaction between European settlers and indigenous peoples. The last
sections of this chapter are devoted to case studies of three of the most
important and representative examples of the contested settler variation on
the settlement colony pattern: South Africa, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Because
the pattern of colonization involved in the White Dominions has been
considered in some depth in Chapter 23, developments in Canada and Australia
are covered largely through comparisons to patterns in South Africa and other
contested settlement areas.

Colonial Regimes And African And Asian Peoples

As the Europeans imposed their rule over tens of millions of additional
Africans and Asians in the late 19th century, they drew heavily on precedents
set in older colonies, particularly India, in establishing administrative,
legal, and educational systems. As in India (or in Java and Senegal), the
Europeans exploited long-standing ethnic and cultural divisions between the
peoples of their new African or Asian colonies to put down resistance and
maintain control. In West and East Africa in particular, they used the peoples
who followed animistic religions (those that focused on the propitiation of
nature or ancestral spirits) or those who had converted to Christianity
against the Muslim communities that existed in most colonies. In official
reports and censuses, colonial administrators rigidified and enhanced existing
ethnic differences by dividing the peoples in each colony into "tribes." The
label itself, with its connotations of primitiveness and backwardness, says a
great deal about general European attitudes toward the peoples of sub-Saharan
Africa. In Southeast Asia, the colonizers sought to use hill dwelling "tribal"
minorities against the majority populations that lived in the lowlands. In
each colonial area, favored minorities, often Christians, were recruited into
the civil service and police. Their collaboration not only resulted in a sense
of loyalty to the colonizers, it antagonized less-favored ethnic and religious
groups, thus bolstering the divide and rule strategy of the Europeans.

As had been the case in India, Java, and Senegal small numbers of
Europeans, who lived mainly in the capital city and major provincial towns,
oversaw the administration of the African and Asian colonies, which was
actually carried out at the local level mainly by hundreds or thousands of
African and Asian subordinates. Some of these - normally those in positions of
the greatest authority - were Western educated, but the majority were
recruited from indigenous elite groups, including village headmen, local
notables, and regional lords. In Burma, Malaya, and East Africa, numerous
Indian administrators and soldiers assisted the British in ruling new
additions to their empire. The Europeans also recruited promising male youths
in the newly colonized areas for Western schooling that would make them fit
for jobs as government clerks or railway mechanics.

In contrast to Java and India, where schools were heavily
state-supported, Western-language education in Africa was left largely to
Protestant and Catholic missionaries. As a result of deep-seated racial
prejudices held by virtually all the colonizers, higher education was not
promoted in Africa, and in Africa college graduates were rare compared to
India, the Dutch East Indies, or even smaller Asian colonies such as Burma and
Vietnam. Of course, this policy stunted the growth of a middle class in black
Africa, a consequence that European colonial officials increasingly intended.
As nationalist agitation spread among the Western-educated classes in India
and other Asian colonies, colonial policymakers warned against the dangers
posed by college graduates. Those with advanced educations among the
colonized, according to this argument, aspired to jobs that were beyond their
capacity and were understandably disgruntled when they could not find

Changing Social Relations Between Colonizer And Colonized

In both long-held and newly acquired colonies, the growing tensions
between the colonizers and the rising African and Asian middle classes
reflected a larger shift in European social interaction with the colonized
peoples. This shift had actually begun long before the scramble for colonies
in the late 19th century. Its causes are complex, but the growing size and
changing makeup of European communities in the colonies were critical factors.
As more and more Europeans went to the colonies, they tended to keep to
themselves on social occasions rather than mixing with the "natives." New
medicines and increasingly segregated living quarters made it possible to
bring to the colonies the wives and families of government officials and
European military officers (but not of the rank-and-file until well into the
20th century). Wives and families further closed the social circle of the
colonized, and European women looked disapprovingly on liaisons between
European men and Asian or African women. Brothels were put off-limits for
upper-class officials and officers, and mixed marriages or living arrangements
met with more and more vocal disapproval both within the constricted world of
the colonial communities and back home in Europe. The growing numbers of
missionaries and pastors for European congregations in the colonies obviously
served to strengthen these taboos.

European women were once held to be the chief culprits in the growing
social gap between colonizer and colonized, but male officials may well have
been mainly responsible. They established laws restricting or prohibiting
miscegenation and other sorts of interracial liaisons, and they pushed for
housing arrangements and police practices designed specifically to keep social
contacts between European women and the colonized at a minimum. These measures
locked European women in the colonies into an almost exclusively European
world. They still had lots of "native" servants and "native" nannies for their
children, but they rarely came into contact with men or women of their own
social standing from the colonized peoples. Occasions when they did were
highly public and strictly formal.

The trend toward social exclusivism on the part of Europeans in the
colonies and their open disdain for the culture of colonized peoples were
reinforced by notions of white racial supremacy, which peaked in acceptance in
the decades before the First World War. It was widely believed that the mental
and moral superiority of whites over the rest of humankind, which was usually
divided into racial types according to the crude criterion of skin color, had
been demonstrated by scientific experiments. Because the inferior intelligence
and weak sense of morality of non-Europeans were believed to be inherent and
permanent, there seemed little motivation for Europeans to socialize with the
colonized and lots of good reasons for fighting the earlier tendency to adopt
elements of the culture and life-style of subject peoples. As photos from the
late 19th century reveal, stiff collars and ties for men, and corsets and long
skirts for women became obligatory for the respectable colonial functionaries
and their wives. The colonizers' houses were filled with the overstuffed
furniture and bric-a-brac that the late Victorians loved so dearly. European
social life in the colonies revolved around the infamous clubs, where the only
"natives" allowed were the servants. In the heat of the summer months, most of
the administrators and virtually all of the colonizers' families retreated to
the hill stations, where the cool air and the quaint architecture made it seem
almost as if they were home again - or at least in a Swiss mountain resort.

[See Queen Victoria: Queen Victoria in the year of her diamond jubilee, 1897.]

[See Taking The Oath: Queen Victoria taking the oath - Painted by Sir George

Shifts In Methods Of Economic Extraction

The relationship between the colonizers and the mass of the colonized
remained much as it had been before. District officers, with the help of many
"native" subordinates, continued to do their paternal duty to settle disputes
between peasant villagers, punish criminals, and collect taxes. European
planters and merchants still relied on African or Asian overseers and brokers
to manage laborers and purchase crops and handicraft manufactures. But late
19th century colonial bureaucrats and managers sought to instruct African and
Asian peasants in "scientific" farming techniques and to compel the colonized
peoples more generally to work harder and more efficiently. Here was an
important extension of dependent status in the Western-dominated world
economy, as pressure for new work habits supported the drive for cheap raw
materials (exports) and drew in a growing segment of the colonial labor force.

A wide range of incentives was devised in response to the expansion of
production for export and also the abolition of prior forms of slavery. Some
of these incentives benefited the colonized peoples, such as the cheap
consumer goods that could be purchased with cash earned producing marketable
crops or laboring on European plantations. In many instances, however,
colonized peoples were simply forced to produce crops or raw materials that
the Europeans desired for little or no remuneration. Head and hut taxes were
imposed that could only be paid in ivory, palm nuts, or wages earned working
on European estates. Villagers were forced to grow market produce on lands
they normally devoted to food crops. Under the worst of these forced-labor
schemes, such as those inflicted on the peoples of the Belgian Congo in the
final decades of the 19th century, villagers were flogged and killed if they
failed to meet production quotas, and women and children were held hostage to
ensure that their menfolk would deliver the products demanded on time. Whether
out of self-interest or fear, the colonial overlords were determined to draw
their subjects into fuller participation in the European- dominated global
market economy.

As increasing numbers of the colonized peoples were drawn into the
production of crops or minerals intended for export to Europe, colonized areas
in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia were reduced to dependence on the
industrializing European economies. Roads and railways were built primarily to
facilitate the movement of farm produce and raw materials from the interior of
colonized areas to port areas where they could be shipped to Europe.
Benefiting from Europe's technological advances, mining sectors grew
dramatically in most of the colonies. Vast areas that were previously
uncultivated or (more commonly) had been planted in food crops were converted
to the production of commodities - such as cocoa, palm oil, rubber, and hemp -
in great demand in the markets of Europe and, increasingly, the United States.

The profits from the precious metals and minerals extracted from Africa's
mines or the rubber grown in Malaya went mainly to European merchants and
industrialists. The raw materials themselves were shipped to Europe to be
processed and sold or used in the manufacture of industrial products. The
finished products were intended mainly for European consumers, whether these
be members of middle and working class families or government contractors. The
African and Asian laborers who produced these products were generally poorly
paid - if indeed they were paid at all. The laborers and colonial economies as
a whole were steadily reduced to dependence on the European-dominated global
market. Thus, economic dependence complemented the political subjugation and
social subordination of colonized African and Asian peoples in a world order
loaded in favor of the expansionist nations of western Europe.

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