Imperialism and its Onslaught
Throughout the eighteenth century there was steady industrial development and intense commercial activity. As a result, in the following century, Europe emerged as the dominant power, while Asia and Africa were colonised and exploited. Within Europe England held a pre-eminent position as the world leader of capitalism. With the revolution in transport and communication, between 1870 and 1914, a global economy developed. Steamship and telegraph lines linked continents, while railways linked the interiors to ports. Finance flowed from Europe and the USA fuelling world-wide economic activity. An ever-growing demand for markets and raw materials made the capitalist powers race round the world for expanding their empire for exploitation. The search for markets, the fierce competition for trade, the fight for more colonies, all these plunged the rival nations into conflict.
The feeling that Germany had not been given its rightful place among the comity of nations accounted for its uncompromising approach to other nations, particularly to Britain. At last mutual suspicion and a strained situation led to the First World War. With the defeat of Germany and its allies in the war, a conference met at Versailles (1919) to draw up conditions for peace. One of the striking features of the settlement was the formation of League of Nations for the guarantee of future world peace. Inflation and food shortages during the War contributed to a revolution in Russia. On the other hand, the discontentment over the peace settlement, political instability, impact of Great Depression all contributed to the rise of fascist governments in Italy and Germany.