Identify what you consider to be the three most significant political changes in the century preceding the start of World War I. To support your choices, you will need to highlight a minimum two major Western nations and two colonies during this period. In addition to outlining the changes, your descriptions should include details related to economics and the rising political conflicts associated with imperialism, politics, and society.
Be sure to include the following points in your essay:
• An introduction that engages the reader and clearly presents the essay’s thesis and a summary of the main points that clarifies your point of view.
• Choose at least two sources from the databases in the CSU Online Library. These sources may be eBooks or articles as long as they are academic in nature. The Academic One File and America History and Life databases are good places to start your research.
• The organization of the essay should clearly present points arranged logically to support the thesis.
• The writing should be clearly organized and concise with no spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors.
Your essay should be at least two pages in length, double-spaced, and use APA style guidelines. The title and reference pages do not count towards the minimum page length requirement.
ANSWER TO THE QUESTION
Important Political Changes Preceding World War I
Save for Napoleon’s conquest wars in Europe, Western nations had never engaged in a major conflict prior to the World War I. The countries’ revulsion by the Napoleonic wars led to the creation of peace societies (Chickering, 2015). The countries joined a geopolitical system that was characterized by a balance of power to ensure that the prosperity that followed the Napoleonic wars remained in place. Europe implemented several boundary changes to conform to the specifications set by the Congress of Vienna. Moreover, there was a rising imperialism in an era that saw the scramble for colonies in Africa (Barnhart, 2016). The countries struggled to acquire colonies, often engaging in wars to advance their influence in Africa and Asia. The peace and stability before World War I allowed the emergence of militarism, nationalism, expansionism, and alliances that led to the war.
European countries engaged in a balance of power ostensibly to tackle the intrinsic expansionist tendencies of their neighbors. The status of a country was pegged on variables such as the size of the nation’s overseas colonies, leadership structure, and its economy (Barnhart, 2016). Germany significantly tilted the balance of power due to the unification of its different states to form a unified country. The amalgamation raised its status from one of the weakest European powers to a force to reckon with. Britain was a powerful aristocratically controlled nation with several colonies in Asia and Africa, much to the disdain of Germany. France enjoyed excellent relations with Britain and Russia, and this supplemented its weak economy, making it a relatively influential country. France’s main preoccupation was checking the powers of Germany by turning European powers against her (Keiger, 2015). The balance of power meant that no country would be permitted to gain unfettered influence over the other powers. The German Chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck maintained a balance of power in Europe by entering into treaties and alliances with other nations.
European powers, in pursuit of their imperialist and expansionist agendas, sought to occupy, divide, and colonize the African continent. The powers held the Berlin Conference where they laid the strategies for colonizing and regulating trade in Africa. Africa presented a new frontier for the powers to compete economically and militarily, with the powers that had more colonies enjoying a perceived hegemony over their peers (Barnhart, 2016). The Europeans went from running the colonies as protectorates and trade areas as did the Portuguese, to managing the militarily while reaping economic benefits to a more direct and authoritarian rule. Colonies were viewed as status symbols and strategic assets, and the Europeans usually used them as pawns during negotiations (Barnhart, 2016).
The period preceding World War I also saw the emergence of the Labour Party in Britain. The party gained recognition after its candidate was elected to the House of Commons in 1892. The Labour Party comprised of the lower middle-class British workers. The Reform Act of 1884 gave workers the right to vote, their numerical strength was an important factor for the creation of the Labour Party (Adelman, 2014). The workers had emerged as an important political segment, and they vouched for more government involvement in the economy, the protection of workers interests through the introduction of better working conditions and shorter working hours (Adelman, 2014).
Before World War I, Europe was the world’s technological, economical, and political leader. However, the rise of imperialism and nationalism led to the formation of rival alliances due to the nations’ competing interests and the overall pursuit of hegemony. The rivalry led to the scramble and partition of Africa as having colonies on the continent was a desirable status symbol. Moreover, the period saw the advent of the working middle-class as an important segment of the society. They were sought by the existing political parties, and they even led to the formation of new parties like the Labour Party in Britain. The period before World War I had far-reaching social, political, and economic consequences for the Western world.
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