Low Risk #6 Walter Bagehot, Physics and Politics

            Imperialism is the phenomena whereby a nation expands its empire. This is made possible when a nation, empire or society has enough recourses and power to overcome the obstacles that resist its growth. Many European nations grew and expanded their empires in the nineteenth century. Walter Bagehot, in his document on Physics and Politics, argues that empires able to expand when their military prowess is greater than those exhibited in others. This is probably the reason that superpower empires like Britain, Spain, Germany and Portugal were able to conquer and colonize other nations. The nineteenth century was marked by war and colonization of many African, Asian and even northern and southern American nations by the European empires.

He later adds on that the stronger nation will always conquer the weaker. This made it quite easy for the European superpowers to extend their colonies as they had more advanced armies. The European nations were driven by a myriad of reasons on their expansion and subsequent imperialism. This included but not restricted to a desire to expand their territories and area of rule. This included influencing societies and nations with their culture, civilization and forms of governance. This was probably made easier by the fact that these nations and empires exhibited superior military prowess than any other nations.

Walter Bagehot, also argues that the presence of legality that does not choke the amount of variability in their nature. The legal systems that were evident in these nations were very much profound. The legality of these nations made their societies to be civil. This enhanced their trade patterns and the level of technological advancement. This made these nations to look for more areas to gather resources in order to fuel their growing economies. The technological advancements reflected on the types of weaponry that these nations exhibited. An example is that their cotton industries required vast quantities of raw materials that the lands previously owned by these nations could provide. This led to them colonizing other nations in search of raw materials to fuel their growing industries. Their military prowess made weaker nations and societies like those of Africa and Asia fall easier to them. This is because many of the nations exhibited crude methods of fighting like bows and arrows and therefore could not match to the arsenal that the European powers had.

The European societies exhibited a great deal of variability. They had different religions, their trade was very diverse and complex, and they also exhibited well established educational systems. In fact, imperialism was justified by their argument that there was the need to propagate their Christian religion and European forms of government, education, and law to other uncivilized nations and societies as a way of making their lives better. They believed that as superpowers, they had the responsibility of taking care of indigenous and uncivilized nations. The colonization of many nations and societies was initiated by the arrival of missionaries from the European imperial nations. This was to convert the indigenous societies from pagan worship and introduce them into Christianity. These missionaries included famous ones like the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone helped to reveal unexplored areas to the European population in their efforts of spreading their religion. What followed was the adoption of the European systems of governance, education, language and finally colonization and the plundering of their recourses.

The European imperialism was just a form of adaptation to one of the laws fronted by Walter Bagehot that dictate the progress of any society or empire, he says, “First. In every particular state of the world, those nations which are strongest tend to prevail over the others; and in certain marked peculiarities the strongest tend to be the best.” This justified why the stronger European superpowers ended up colonizing weaker African, Asian and Australian states.


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