Hamish Rogers social movement



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Hamish Rogers







social movement"21. These theories combined present a convincing argument for the social motive of imperialism -the old elite, they predicted therefore, would conduct the process of colonisation to regain lost power in society. Indeed, if Cain and Hopkins' theory of 'Gentlemanly Capitalism' is applied, Schumpeter's sociological argument can be seen in action - "economic and social superiority [of the gentlemanly class] was reflected in the making of economic policy"22. In Britain the landed gentry dominated government: Marx estimated that social movements

threatened them and Schumpeter put emphasis on this for large-scale Empirical investment. The research of and Huttenback provides convincing evidence for this theory - the relative holdings of overseas stakes 1865-1914 for the elites in Empire firms was 153, but a meagre 45 for all businesses'^TDnring a crisis of hereditary elites then, in theory Leopold would fear for his position in society amongst the new affluent bourgeoisie, this being the reason for his colonial expansion in the Congo.

With closer analysis and judgement, this theory is flawed. In the wider context of Europe the new bourgeoisie invested and conducted imperialism, not the old aristocracy. In Germany it was the industrial middle class who invested abroad, not the elites, who in Germany still held great power. Indeed it seems industrialists were complacent without the vote: as long as they held wealth and economic power they were content with little political power - "industrialists could see a point in joining forces with the agrarians, since the market... would be safeguarded by high tariffs"24. Schumpeter's theory fitted for British investments, but ironically not Germany where he conducted his study. Arguably, linked back to the intrinsic connection between imperialism and capitalism, the bourgeoisie's conduct of imperialism was a factor that contributed to their rise in power - "Imperialism has always served the interests of Capital [and therefore]... the business class"25. Furthermore Leopold had nothing to fear, as Schumpeter suggested he would, because even in 1934 Belgium was "not truly constitutional"26 - he had no need to consolidate his power if nothing threatened it. The driving force behind Leopold then was clearly an ulterior motive, as although he was an aristocrat who conducted colonisation, he acted not out of fear for loss of power. On the surface the theory seems to apply to Belgium, but with closer analysis it can be seen the Leopold was economically, not socially, motivated. Perhaps where Schumpeter failed is when he offered just one factor for colonisation for all nations - the 'Scramble' is idiosyncratic so one cause and simple explanation cannot be applied broadly. Nonetheless, this argument opens various possibilities for causes that encouraged Leopold to act - he cannot, therefore, be the most important factor if without motivation there was a possibility that he would not have undertaken his venture.


There is a strong case that claims, with regards to European rivalries, Leopold's actions caused agitation elsewhere, which further enhanced the intensity of the partition - Fritz Stern claims, "Leopold's vast encroachments alarmed all other powers"27. This supports Chamberlain, putting emphasis on Leopold as a driving factor. His actions in the Congo aroused other factors into action, thus impacted the scramble outside his sphere of direct influence. Indeed, John Lowe asserts, "it was rival claims to the Congo that sparked off the Scramble"28. Britain became fearful for



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Bleichroder to Leopold II, 23rd April, 1883, BA, a letter

P.J. Cain and A. J. Hopkins, British Imperialism, Innovation and Expansion 1688-1914, Longman, 1993, p. 141 L.E. Davis and R.A Huttenback, Mammon and The Pursuit of Empire: The Political Economy of British Imperialism, 1860-1912, Cambridge, 1987, Table 7.6, p.212 I. Porter and I. Armour, Imperial Germany 1890-1918, Longman, 1991, p.13-14 http://flag.blackened.net/sai/faq/secD5.html

Ramon Arango, Leopold HI and the Belgian Royal Question, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1961, p.9. Frit/ Stem, Gold andiron, Bismark, Bleichroder and the Building of the German Empire, Vintage, 1979, p.404 J. Lowe, Rivalry and Accord, International Relations 1870-1914, Hodder and Stoughton, 2001, p.74-75



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