Low Risk #6 Walter Bagehot, Physics and Politics
The European empires such the ones in France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Russia, amongst others reached their utmost extent in the 19th century. Although they had started their expansion in the previous centuries, they took more strategies to capture a wider region in this century. This included capturing the more African states and other smaller states in the other continents. There are many reasons that led to the European imperialism. The Europeans wanted territorial strength. This would enable them get economic opportunities, which they really desired. They colonized countries that had rich resources to enable them achieve their goals. They also desired political prestige. Most of the countries they colonized were not strong politically and they easily overpowered them. They were also in need of cheap labors. They used their colonies to acquire wealth, which they took back to their countries.
According to Bagehot, the European imperialism was led to other factors. One of the reasons was the need to survive. He says that the “natural selection” (43) way of survival in life led to the colonizing other countries. They had to defeat their competitors (other states), and as it was from ancient times, this was achieved by holding captive or killing the competitor. The former was more advantageous. Bagehot further explains that in every state of the world, the nations, which are strongest, always prevail over the weaker ones.
History has proven that the stronger nations rule and it has continued to happen even today. Bagehot also feels that in every nation, the type of character that is most attractive prevails but the one with the best character prevails with exceptions. He continues and says that the one that has an advantage of extrinsic forces prevails better than the others do. All these three factors are the ones that intrigued the Europeans to colonize other countries.
According to history, “the strongest nation has always conquered the weaker nation and even subdued it” (Bagehot 50). It was almost inevitable for the European countries (stronger nations) to conquer the other nations (weaker). If attractive meant having modernized weapons, being civilized and tricky, the Europeans were definitely attractive. They used their resources and tricks to capture the uncivilized colonies. Knowing which method to apply and when to apply it was a character that put them on the top. There are times they fought and there are times they simply used plain words to and “gifts” in order to subdue the colonies.
Bagehot feels that men have always had the spirit of war and constantly inflict each other with pain without as much as a second thought. Having “bled in war and nursed in war” (Bagehot 64), he feels that this feeling has continued to grow over the years. It reached a time when it was not all about war but rather a case of inflicting pain but having beneficial results. According to the readings, the colonies were meant to be in pain no matter the pain inflictors. Man must survive. It is only unfortunate that he has to use/defeat another man in order to survive. The competition from other similar powerful states led to the competition amongst themselves, having wars to defeat each other thus acquiring more colonies. It is also unfortunate that the colonies were the weaker states. It is felt that if the roles were reversed, the countries colonized would also have done the same thing.
Bagehot explains that the military head may order a tree to be cut, but he may not know the force that is within the forest. This may be the reason that led to the freedom of the colonies. The need for power, wealth and honor blindfolded the states to the consequences and the underground forces that were slowly spreading and becoming strong (Bagehot 76). The constant winning of the states also encouraged them in their quest for more. Although they might let go for sometime, they continue to find ways of surviving by using the weaknesses of other states in the world.
Bagehot, Walter. Physics and Politics. New York, NY: Casimo Inc, 1873. Print.