non-economic motives for Western Imperialism Discuss some of the non-economic motives for Western Imperialism. in your opinion, were the economic or non-economic motives of primary importance, and WHY?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While Great Britain certainly enjoyed the economic power that came from its great Empire, the population problem on the island of England was also solved, at least for the decades before their population grew from the immigrations of former residents of their colonies.  For instance, Australia and New South Wales became penal colonies that alleviated the tremendous crowding in Great Britain.

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enotechris eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Once again, I find myself in the Loyal Opposition. Imperialism is the projection of a country's power and influence, and although that may be symbolically represented by means of politics, religion or other institutions in an occupied area, countries always seek to expand their economies. In the case of colonies, there's an implicit imbalance between Mother Country and Daughter Colonies; Mother keeping most of the economic benefits for herself.  Great Britain succumbed to this philosophy with her North American Colonies by forbidding them the export of their raw materials to anyone except to Mother, for example.

Sadly, I'm guessing that most historical trade relations have followed suit -- that the colony or occupied area was under the economic thumb of the imperial power.

All the other trappings of culture from the imperialist power are merely secondary effects to the goal of economic control.

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Queen Langosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The desire to gain natural resources, ports, and markets was not simply economic. It was viewed as a matter of national security, as the "dash for colonies" of the late nineteenth century indicates.

Beyond that, though, the missionary zeal was fairly strong in many western nations. We tend to view it as hypocritical today, but in its context, it was a powerful force, especially for middle class people. Also intricately interwoven with evangelicalism was the progressive desire to improve people's lives. That many of those peoples didn't necessarily welcome these improvements, and that many of the problems imperialists thought needed to be solved were related to imperialism itself, doesn't seem to have occurred to them.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I have to strongly agree with pohnpei about the non-economic motives for Western Imperialism. Religion and power have always been at the forefront of nations minds when trying to exert their power over other nations.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There was also the religious motives. People wanted to make others like them, or sometimes wanted to get somewhere where they could practice freely.  Overpopulation, in addition to being an economic motive, is also a social one.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Non-economic motives were religion, the desire to "civilize" those conquered, and power/nationalism.  I would argue that the last of these was the most important.  The various countries wanted to show how strong they were and to get new territories from which to project their power (as the US did in Hawaii and the Philippines).

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