As the war of the worlds collide between the more democratic Allies and the orthodox Central powers, there were numerous causes to the war in which they can be summed up into the –isms of modern analysis. In the 19th, 20th, and even the 21st century, almost all of the conflicts can be categorized in either one or a combination of those –isms.
Nationalism and Extreme Nationalism
One of the causes of World War I can be linked to the use of extreme nationalism. An easily abused method, nationalism proved worthy of a war during the Napoleonic Era.
Extreme nationalism was one of the causes of World War I because of the unification of Germany and Italy. Nationalism led European nations to compete for the largest army and navy, or the greatest industrial development. It also gave groups of subject peoples the idea of forming independent nations of their own. Germany wanted to match the British navy superiority during the reign of Kaiser William II. The nationalistic Italians who had just unified were also willing to fight alongside the Germans in order to prove themselves. Serbian nationalists however, were directly involved with the cause of WW I. On June 28, 1914, the young Princip assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand and thus brought about the ultimatum of Austria-Hungary. Encouraged by the ‘brotherhood’, the Germans willingly watched over its brother and fortified the Anshluss, another case of nationalism. The entanglement of alliances would bring about the war.
There are many examples of nationalism in current conflicts today. In the India and Pakistan conflict, nationalists willingly sacrificed themselves for pride and respect. As each country devoted massive resources to the occupation of Kashmir, they both owed the support to their people. The fear of nuclear warfare did not influence the people at all as nationalistic groups fought over the birthplace of India.
The lack of nationalism also proved to be a conflict for the people of Burma or Myanmar. The militaristic government’s philosophy of ruling isolated left people to live in absolute poverty and is a major human rights concern.
The start of World War I was owed partly to the imperialism that was prominent throughout the world. A direct cause focused on the economical success of Germany. Its claims on colonies and territory such as Alsace-Lorraine proved to be decisive and matched those of Britain’s claims on its colonies, which included India and Burma…. The economical success brought about military innovations for Germany and it was also able to arms race with France and Britain. During the partition of Africa, several disputes came over the claims of Morocco that occurred twice. Both the Moroccan nationalists and the Germans wanted France to stay away from Morocco when they tried to defend their overseas investments with the occupation of Morocco with troops. Both times the conflicts were in the brink of creating war but both times they were solved using crisis diplomacy. Although the compromises proved to have a temporary delay of a war, the grudge between France and Germany remained and German nationalists were determined to never let that happen again. Imperialism became a cause in yet another place. Austria-Hungary instituted political and social imperialism on Serbia in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The annexation of those two regions in 1908 angered many of the Serbs. They wanted Bosnia and Herzegovina to annex with Serbia instead to free themselves of their landlocked situation. The Russian, influenced by pan-Slavism, supported Serbia and it created some tension between Russia and Austria-Hungary before WW I.
Imperialism would only contribute to the causes of the wars today as it has become less prominent in the 21st century. However, in India and Pakistan, India still practices imperialism on the Muslims of Kashmir. The United States, initiated sanctions on Cuba, which was a form of economical imperialism that prevented the tourism market of Cuba from gaining wealth from Americans. Other sanctions too, prevented countries from flourishing and prolonged their poverty stricken state. Burma for example, in current debate now, was a victim of extreme imperialism by large corporations like Pepsi.
Social Darwinism (Neo-Darwinism)
Social Darwinism contributed to imperialism, which contributed to the cause of World War I. Social Darwinism gave countries like Germany, France, and Britain a reason for imperialism. The justification was that the French, Germans, and English were superior to everyone else. The French defended its assets in Morocco. Countries like Japan and Italy strived for colonies and with the principle of survival of the fittest, only superior countries gain wealth and power. The result was a growing hatred among imperialists and capitalism. Anti-imperialism grew along with communists groups following. Throughout World War I, Social Darwinism contributed to not just the cause, but the results of it as well and this lead to communism.
Social Darwinism would be a cause to the many conflicts such as the Muslims and the Hindus fighting each other in India and Pakistan. People among each side thinks that the other side is the unnatural creation. After years of thought to be inferiority among Western civilization, both was determined to prove itself through the more superior white world powers.
An evident cause to World War I, militarism proved to be notoriously distinguished as an arms race. After the resignation of Bismarck, the successor William II used the growth spurt brought about by the success of nationalistic Germany to generate a race against France and Britain simultaneously, on land and sea respectively. Militarism would also be associated to the occupation of Morocco by French troops as European leaders at that time believed the use of force was a way to solve problems. This was also demonstrated after the assassination of Francis Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary proposed the harsh ultimatum only for the purpose of declaring war on Serbia. Each country got more and more powerful from their domestic and foreign profits thus allowing them to continue making weapons and Germany’s navy was able to match and even best the British navy.
In the 21st century, militarism has had its share to the disarray of the world today. Recent conflicts included the amassing of troops in the borders of India and Pakistan. Just recently, they have raced to gain their own nuclear weapons. The U.S. is currently in an arms race with an unseen army, the terrorists.
Another –ism that is associated to nationalism, imperialism, and social Darwinism is pan-ethnicism. As it relates to the cause of WWI, Pan-Slavism was demonstrated before the war when Russia had a great influence on the Slavic countries in the Balkans. Russia sees itself as the protector of the Slavs and during the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia supported Serbia as it protested the movement. As a result, Germany sought to balance the power struggle in the Balkans by opening its diplomacy to the Ottoman Empire. Pan-Ethnicism was also well-known between Germany and Austria-Hungary. As ‘blood brothers’, every German is an Austria-Hungarian and vice versa. As we can see, the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia caused Germany and Russia to get involved as well.
Pan-ethnicism can be a cause to many of the conflicts today as well. Millions of Muslims in Hindu territory were persecuted and vice versa in the dispute between India and Pakistan.. The Pakistanis in hopes of freeing Muslims are determined to control Kashmir in addition to establishing national pride and reputation. Western Sahara, a country in disarray, is fighting to distinguish itself as a country among its neighbors. This conflict aroused the attention of many human rights people around the world.