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What were the arguments for and against imperialism?  

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Let's take a look at the Scramble for Africa. If we look at imperialism in Africa, we can identify nine major motivations or reasons for colonization:

New sources for raw materials

New markets for finished goods

Nationalism, or the expansion of European culture

Missionary activity, or the expansion of Christianity

Strategic military and naval bases

A place for excess population to migrate

Social and economic opportunities

Humanitarian reasons

The "White Man's Burden" (today regarded as thinly veiled racism)

Let's explore them in more detail.

1 - Sources for raw materials. Initially, Spain, France, England and Portugal set up mercantile colonies in the "New World" for this reason. It was a source of new raw materials and natural resources, which could be harvested by implementing a labor system (African or native American slavery, the encomienda tribute system, the mita labor lottery, etc.). Thanks to explorers like David Livingstone traveling through the heart of Africa and reporting on his findings, Europeans turned their attention to Africa. Some of the most attractive natural resources in Africa were diamonds, gold, and rubber (concentrated mostly in the DRC, or as it was known during the imperial period, the Congo).

2 - New markets for finished goods. Long the industrial powerhouse of the world, Europeans would import raw materials and natural resources from their colonies, process and manufacture them, and resell the finished goods back to settlements in the colonies.

3 - Nationalism....

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