Imperialism/Imperialism in Education

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Apart from the urging desire of territorial expansion, there was also an economic rivalry that existed between the Great Powers before World War I. In Britain, many discussed about the threat which German firms represented to the traditional British primacy in Europe. Amongst them, the author Ernest Edwin Williams published a book called ‘Made in Germany’ in 1986, in which he warned that England’s industrial supremacy was staggering to its fall, and according to him, this was largely due to the challenge which German competition represented to British business. In fact, after World War I, some historians had even suggested that Britain had seized the opportunity represented by the July crisis in 1914, only to precipitate a war against its chief economic rival in Europe, and thus to remove a threat to its own commercial primacy. While on the one hand, businessmen whose profits were directly threatened by German firms sounded like the most alarming, on the other hand, those who profited from dealings with Germany showed a lot of enthusiasm and eagerly pointed out the benefits of mutual trade. After all, the economic relation between these two nations was not a zero-sum game in which, for one to prosper, the other had to lose. As a matter of fact, Britain relied on Germany as much as it was threatened by it. German customers represented Britain’s second largest export market after the United States. But while businessmen were worried at the prospect of foreign competition, they were even more afraid about the general collapse in trade that the war would bring about. This was the case for the so-called ‘Merchants of death’, with arms manufacturers such as Schneider Creusot in France or Škoda in Austro-Hungary. These firms made considerable amounts of money through contracts with their governments to produce battleships, guns and other weapons of war. But they also prospered by selling armaments to foreign powers. Moreover, they were well-aware that whatever short-term profits would be made by war time, contracts would be more than offset by the loss of overseas markets due to the general disruption in trade caused by war. There was then, little enthusiasm amongst businessmen for war in 1914. Indeed, when for the first time since it had been established in 1801, the British government closed the London stock exchange on July the 31st 1914, there was panic among investors who were worried that they would be ruined by a general collapse of the world financial system. A delegation of investors even went to see David Lloyd Judge, the British treasury minister, imploring him to keep the United Kingdom out of any continental conflict. After the war, Loyd Judge wrote in his memoirs ‘There are those who pretend to believe that this was a war intrigued, organized and dictated by financiers who ascribed our actions in 1914 to the irritation produced by a growing jealousy of Germany's strength and prosperity. It is a foolish and ignorant libel to call this a financiers war’. In fact, money was a frightened and trembling thing. Money suffered the prospect of war.