The Imperialism Of Free Trade Essays

The Imperialism Of Free Trade Essays

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In their article, The Imperialism of Free Trade, John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson address the relationship between free trade and European imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Gallagher and Robinson refute the traditional idea of the relationship between imperialism and free trade as being one of two elements in conflict, and instead pose the alternative theory that free trade was simply a tool of European imperialism. This proposition about the nature of the relationship between free trade and imperialism is hugely important in that it addresses types of European imperialism that are frequently overlooked and uncovers the vast amount of influence that European powers exerted even without the presence of traditional formal imperial presence.
A central theme of this article is the concept of imperialism as something that can take many different forms. In order to demonstrate this idea, the authors make a point to view imperialism in a way that is much more inclusive to alternative methods of imperialism than their predecessors, taking into account factors such as economic and social influence that other scholars so often overlook when speaking of imperialism. Throughout the article, Gallagher and Robinson criticize the characterization of the mid-Victorian period as an “anti-imperialist” period and the late-Victorian period as one of imperialism. This classic analysis of these two periods has a number of shortcomings which Robinson and Gallagher seek to rectify. Firstly, the definition of imperialism as being characterized solely by annexation overlooks the large amounts of control that European nations exerted over states through means that fall short of actual annexation. In reference to this point, Robins...

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...spectrum is useful in that it helps reveal which specific circumstances in an imperial subject necessitate which specific imperial policies.
Robinson and Gallagher’s article The Imperialism of Free Trade not only provides an explanation of the effect of free trade on the imperialist powers and subjects alike, but it also provides a significantly more complete description of different factors of imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries such as the continuity in the motivation for imperialism which European powers possessed and also the description of imperialism and empire as existing on a scale between formality and informality. This method of understanding imperialism that contrasts with the traditional ideas provides a much more complete understanding of not only European imperialists in the 19th and 20th centuries, but of the concept of imperialism as a whole.

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