Explain any two causes of the First World War.
Following are two important causes of the First World War:
Militant Nationalism - Militant nationalism arose in Europe in the latter part of the 19th century. It meant outright wars by the European countries to achieve their goals. Militant nationalism included two main features: first, the mechanism of maintaining great large standing armies and navies. This was accompanied by espionage, suspicion, fear and hatred, etc. Second, the existence of a powerful class of military and naval officers, headed by staff, who tended to dominate, especially at a time of political crisis, over the civilian authorities. Militant nationalism was caused by aggressive nationalism, economic competition and international tension.
Aggressive nationalism meant love for one’s own country and hatred towards other countries. Each nation thought about its own national interests and did not care for the interests of the other nations. Countries developed expansionist policies in the name of nationalism. Therefore, military might became synonymous with national prestige and every country began to increase her military power.
By the end of the 19th century, England and France had built up huge colonial empires in the continents of Asia and Africa. These colonies provided raw material for their industries and acted as a readily available market for their finished products. As a result, even newly emergent nations like Russia, Italy, Japan began efforts to acquire colonies. It was also seen as a sign of power and prestige. As the scramble for colonies became fiercer, the political situation became more and more hostile.
Race for Armaments - The mad race which began soon after the Franco-Prussian War was one of the prime reasons for the First World War. It filled the political climate of Europe with fear, apprehension and mutual hatred. With a view to protect her colonies in Africa and a few islands in the Pacific, Germany began to build a powerful navy. By 1914, she had left Britain and France behind in iron and steel production and many other manufactures. The Germans also built large ships like the Imperator and dug the Kiel Canal deeper so that battleships could enter its waters. These developments concerned England and France greatly and put them on the edge.
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