Causes of World War One

Causes of World War One

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Causes of World War One


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A. Economic
Imperialism at home and abroad - In one generation
Africa - direct possession (1902: only Liberia, founded by former American slaves remains independent)
Asia and Near East: economic and diplomatic pressure
Economic concessions and extra-territorial privileges: Ottoman Empire - most vulnerable; China - most vulnerable; Japan - modernizing rapidly; India - firmly in British hands;
Importance to Europe: keeps fat on European economy; colonial rule a reproach to democracy; encouraged feelings of national and racial superiority;
"Pan" movements - a form of imperialism
Technology and science: materialism
B. Social
Human welfare: serfdom gone (except in Russia); surgery and anesthetics perfected; life span longer; Victorian middle class morality in decline; spread of literacy.
Peace movements: "pipe dream of peace".
Aristocratic remainders.
Neglect of the proletariat.
C. Intellectual
1. European cultural heritage

2. Ideologies of progress:

conservatism - delaying action not progress (aristocracy)
liberalism - freedom, law, representative government (upper middle class)
radicalism - remove class distinctions, anti-clerical (lower middle class)
socialism - collectivist doctrine (city workers)
new left - syndicalism
D. Political
1. the nation-state: language and race

2. parliamentary government

3. parties:

tied to class and ideology
lack of responsibility
too many of them
4. Differing forms


separation of powers only in the USA
king or president a figurehead in Britain and France
search for majorities in parliament
Britain: the cabinet held the whip
France and Italy: parliament held the whip
5. Extension of the suffrage

6. Exceptions to democratization

Germany: only has external form of it, the Reichstag is a "debating chamber"
Austria-Hungary: maintaining monarchy in polyglot confusion
Russia: a struggle between Duma and Ministry
E. Military
1. popular militarism

Boer War
naval building race: Admiral Tirpitz - risk theory
Three-year army law: France 1913
Tripoli campaign in Italy, 1911
2. Comparative figures on army increase, 1870-1914:

1870 1914

Russia 700,000 1,300,000
France 380,000 846,000
Germany 403,000 812,000
Austria-Hungary 247,000 424,000
Britain 302,000 381,000
Italy 334,000 305,000
Japan 70,000 250,000
U.S.A. 37,000 98,000
3. military expenditure

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Germany and Russia had the largest budgets in 1914
Britain and Germany spent most per capita:
Germany $8.52
Britain $8.53
U.S.A. $0.32
F. Diplomatic
1. Alliance System

1870 - 1890: Bismarck in control
1890 - 1907: balance against Germany
2. Testing the system

Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5
First Morocco Crisis, 1905-6
Bosnian Annexation Crisis, 1908
Second Morocco Crisis, 1911
Haldane Mission, 1912
3. Tensions in the Balkans

Hapsburg Empire in turmoil
South Slav Problem
First Balkan War, 1912-13
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