Great Britain and the tvolution of the colonial system (end 19th – beginning 20th centuries)

Goncharenko A.V., Safonova T.O.



Abstract. The article investigates the impact of Great Britain on the evolution of colonialism in the late ХІХ and early ХХ centuries. It is analyzed the sources and scientific literature on the policy of the United Kingdom in the colonial question in the late ХІХ – early ХХ century. The reasons, course and consequences of the intensification of British policy in the colonial problem are described. The process of formation and implementation of London’s initiatives in the colonial question during the period under study is studied. It is considered the position of Great Britain on the transformation of the colonial system in the late XIX – early XX centuries.

The resettlement activity of the British and the peculiarities of their mentality, based on the idea of racial superiority and the new national messianism, led to the formation of developed resettlement colonies. The war for the independence of the North American colonies led to the formation of a new state on their territory, and the rest of the “white” colonies of Great Britain had at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries had to build a new policy of relations, taking into account the influence of the United States on them, and the general decline of economic and military-strategic influence of Britain in the world, and the militarization of other leading countries. As a result, a commonwealth is formed instead of an empire. With regard to other dependent territories, there is also a change in policy towards the liberalization of colonial rule and concessions to local elites.

In the late ХІХ – early ХІХ centuries the newly industrialized powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) sought to seize the colonies to reaffirm their new status in the world, the great colonial powers of the past (Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands) sought to retain what remained to preserve their international prestige, and Russia sought to expand. The largest colonial empires, Great Britain and France, were interested in maintaining the status quo.

In the colonial policy of the United Kingdom, it is possible to trace a certain line related to attempts to preserve the situation in their remote possessions and not to get involved in conflicts and costly measures where this can be avoided. In this sense, the British government showed some flexibility and foresight – the relative weakening of the military and economic power of the empire due to the emergence of new states, as well as the achievement of certain self-sufficiency, made it necessary to reconsider traditional foreign policy.

Colonies are increasingly no longer seen as personal acquisitions of states, and policy toward these territories is increasingly seen as a common deal of the international community and even its moral duty. The key role here was to be played by Great Britain, which was one of the first to form the foundations of a “neocolonial” system that presupposes a solidarity policy of Western countries towards the rest of the world under the auspices of London.

Colonial system in the late ХІХ – early ХІХ century underwent a major transformation, which was associated with a set of factors, the main of which were – the emergence of new industrial powers on the world stage, the internal evolution of the British Empire, changes in world trade, the emergence of new weapons, general growth of national and religious identity and related with this contradiction. The fact that the First World War did not solve many problems, such as Japanese expansionism or British marinism, and caused new ones, primarily such as the Bolshevik coup in Russia and the coming to power of the National Socialists in Germany, the implementation of the above trends stretched to later moments.


Keywords: the Great Britain, international relationships, foreign policy, colonialism.