|By the second half of the nineteenth
century, European states (and the United States) had grown more powerful
and technologically advanced than countries in the rest of the
world. This set the stage
for a renewed effort to expand and establish European (and American) influence and control
over territories in Australia, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim. That effort
soon turned, quite literally, into a mad scramble to extend national power and
prestige overseas. In Africa, the race was on to carve up Africa into European
spheres-of-influence. This imperialist competition
helped to increase tensions among countries in Europe and was one of
the contributing factors leading to World War I.
Beginning in the nineteenth century, the non-European world began to experience the direct impact of European military, economic and intellectual power. This was something that much of the world had been able to avoid for a long period of time, but no longer. In most cases the superior technological advances (weaponry) of Europe and North America confronted Asian and African societies with a direct challenge to their existence. The responses of these societies varied dramatically, from the decision to copy the West's economic characteristics as much as practicable (Japan) to the decision to undertake radical political revolution based on a Western model (China) to outright subservience (Belgian Congo). Increasingly, the Western economic model (capitalism and heavy industrial development) and the Western political structure (the idea of the national state) became a model to be adapted (and modified) throughout the world. This had a dramatic impact on the integrity of native societies.
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