Supplemental Episode 2:

The Great Game

       We now come to the close of our first great arc of this series: The Long 19th Century, wherein we discussed the political, social, and diplomatic trends that Europe underwent in the century or so before the outbreak of the First World War. In this arc, we have spent almost our entire time in Europe. This is by design; the First World War was primarily fought in Europe by European soldiers and waged by European countries. Yet as any of you who know anything about the history of the 19th century are aware of, these European countries did not simply stick within their own continent when acquiring power and jockeying for position. Rather, this period saw one of the largest conquests of territory in the history of world by foreign powers. Nearly every continent and every nation in the world was either colonizing or being colonized by someone else; sometimes both. In today’s episode, we are going to take a look at this massive, massive period of conquest and colonization by the major European powers. This survey will be necessarily brief and at times blunt, as I am eager to finally get into the outbreak of the First World War next week. But I do want to cover the main areas of colonization by the major European powers during this period, so we at least have a sense of where those empires stood as 1914 dawned.

         I call this episode “The Great Game,” which is a term often used to describe the almost Cold War like relationship between Russia and Great Britain as their empires in central Asia on the one hand and India on the other grew closer and closer to one another. But I often like to use the term “The Great Game” to describe not merely the diplomatic geo-political chess match between Russia and Great Britain in central and south Asia, but the entire process of European colonialism between the fall of Napoleon in 1815 and the beginning of the First World War in 1914. The nature of this “game,” its never-ending character of expansion for expansion’s sake, is best summed up in Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim, wherein he says, “When everyone is dead the Great Game is finished. Not before.” In this process it was necessary to always seize more and more territory from “less civilized” people, not only for their manpower and natural resources, but to simply outdo their rivals in terms of power acquired. Or, as Hannah Arendt said of “The Great Game,” “[its] rules permitted and even dictated the consideration of whole nations as stepping-stones, or as pawns, in today’s terminology, for the riches and the rule of a third country, which in turn became a mere stepping-stone in the unending process of power expansion and accumulation.”

         There is indeed something very 1984-esque about 19th century European colonialism, how it involved a few superpowers fighting small border conflicts not in each other’s territory proper, but in and around their colonial holdings on the other side of the world. But as fascinating as all this is, I don’t want to lose sight of the suffering of the millions and millions of people conquered and subjected to the capricious rule of a foreign power all in the name of “civilizing” people considered less than human by their European masters.

         Broadly speaking, there are four areas of geographic focus I want to cover today: Siberia, Africa, India, and East Asia. These were the main areas where colonization by European powers took place during the 19th century, and we’re going to cover them each in turn, in the order I presented above. So first we will cover the final takeover of Siberia by the Russian Empire, then we will move onto when and where the nearly entire continent of Africa was carved up by the European powers, then we will cover the British conquest of India, and finally move onto what had for thousands of years been the greatest civilization in the history of the world, but was on the verge of becoming a feeding ground for the great European states: the Empire of China.

         So first, let us discuss an area of European colonialism that is usually either brushed over entirely in surveys of the period, or is not even considered to be European colonialism. As we all know, in 1721, Czar Peter I of Russia (aka Peter the Great) crowned himself Emperor of the Russian Empire, and upon his death a few years later Russia was on the verge of becoming a Great Power, equal to if not greater than the great European states to the west. At the time, the 1720s, Russia controlled a great deal of Eastern Europe beyond its present-day borders, including most of Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, and the constellation of states along the Baltic Sea coast. Yet it had not solidified its control over the eastern steppes, and indeed Russia’s borders in this period were not only pretty nebulous and theoretical, but they did not even encompass all of what today is controlled by the Russian Federation.

         The land of North-central and eastern Asia, what we call Siberia, is a truly vast stretch of territory defined by freezing tundras, large forests, and natural resources of diversity and scale that has led it to be called at times “Russia’s El Dorado,” a land of immeasurable wealth for those who can tame its intense climate. The peoples and tribes native to this land were, to quote historian Alan Wood, “neither European nor wholly Far Eastern in their provenance.” This is important to keep in mind when we discuss this region’s incorporation into the Russian Empire, as the people of Siberia were, until pretty recently, not in any way Russian. Neither were they East Asian nor simply Siberian, but rather each of the multitudes of peoples that lived in this harsh environment were quite distinct from one another, as they lived for tens of thousands of years in relatively sparsely populated communities over a land mass that is more than 50% larger than all of the United States.

         Russian expansion into this region, that is east of the Ural mountains had begun in the 1500s, roundabout the time Ivan the Terrible was crowning himself as the first Czar of the Czardom of Russia. Yet even by the middle of the 19th century, while the Russian Empire claimed nominal control over most of this region, this control was, as I said previously, largely theoretical and many communities in Siberia as well as central Asia (and here I’m thinking about the modern day country of Kazakhstan and the countries surrounding it) were hardly touched at all by the long arm of the Russian Imperial government. At this point, Siberia was mostly known to the people of Russia proper, that is the land to the east of the Ural Mountains, as the destination for political prisoners exiled to the far away eastern tundras as punishment for opposing the will of the Czar, a practice that by the 19th century had become fairly commonplace.

This all started to change in the year 1891, with the beginning of the construction of one of the most consequential infrastructure projects in history: the Trans-Siberian Railway. This massive, decades long effort eventually connected Moscow with the far-away city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast, and when completed stretched for nearly 10,000 kilometers, crossing an entire continent and becoming the longest railroad system in the world. This not only made it possible to keep Russia’s land and sea forces in the far east fully supplied (something that had been a huge problem in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, before the railroad was completed), but it also connected the communities in the interior of Siberia to the central Russian government in a way that had never before been possible. Beyond that, it now meant that people of ethnic Russian heritage, really, colonists, could now travel to Siberia to supplant the local communities and bring them more into line with the policies of the Russian government, and by that of course I mean, taxation and conscription. There is much more to be said about the process of turning Siberia from an endless stretch of frozen wilds into a fully incorporated part of the Russian Empire, but for now we will simply note that the peasants and nomadic herdsmen of Siberia were no longer able to easily dodge Russian claims on their wealth and manpower, and this will be critically important to the region once the First World War starts.

Next, let us move on to a region, a continent in fact, that was in many ways the center of European colonialism during the 19th century: Africa. Now obviously, there is no way I will be able to do any justice to the hundreds if not thousands of peoples, places, languages, and cultures of Africa in this single episode. Rather, what I’d like to do today is outline the geographic and administrative makeup of the various European empires in Africa by way of the great convention that was held in the 1880s that mostly finalized how exactly the continent would be carved up. I speak now of the Berlin Conference of 1884.

On November 15, 1884, delegates representing all of the great states in Europe, as well as many states that at the time would be considered minor (such as Belgium, Portugal, and the Ottoman Empire), met in Berlin at the official residence of the Chancellor of the German Empire: Otto von Bismarck. Their goal was simple: eliminate all competing claims to territory in Africa and draw up a finalized map of all the European empires on that continent. To quote the eminent historian Adam Hochschild in his fantastic book “King Leopold’s Ghost,” which is a must read if you want to get into this period of history, “The Berlin Conference was the ultimate expression of an age whose newfound enthusiasm for democracy had clear limits, and slaughtered game had no vote.” This is a blunt but accurate portrayal of the Berlin Conference of 1884. These men all came together to decide the fate of millions of people without consulting a single one of them. At least at the Congress of Vienna, which similarly decided the fates of millions of people without their consultation, the men present at that meeting were made up of natives who sort of represented the lands to be carved up. No such luck here. Not a single African was present at this meeting which was to decide who owned what (and in a larger sense who owned whom) on the entire African continent.

The blow by blow of the final decisions of the conference went as such: Portugal would get to maintain her old claims in Angola on the southwestern coast of the continent as well as Mozambique on the southeastern coast; the French would maintain their old claim in Algeria (held since 1830), would control most of the Sahara Desert including modern day Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, would get several coastal regions in west Africa including modern day Guinea, Benin, the Ivory Coast, and Mauritania, and finally the island of Madagascar east of Africa proper; Britain, who would hold the largest empire on the continent, would get modern day Sudan and South Sudan, would hold a kind of vassalhood over Egypt (even though in theory it was still a part of the Ottoman Empire it was de facto now part of the British Empire), as well as holding modern day Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa (technically there were also a couple of free republics that were under British hegemony in South Africa, but we’ll get to those in a minute); Germany would get modern day Namibia, Tanzania, and Cameroon; and finally Belgium would get one of the greatest prizes of all – the Congo – right in the heart of the continent. This is all shown on one of this week’s maps.

Funnily enough, the Belgians probably won out the most from this settlement, in terms of the slice of land they got relative to their own power in Europe. Although, and this is worth mentioning, technically it was not Belgium that got control of the Congo, but rather their King, Leopold II, who claimed the entire territory (something like 2.3 million square kilometers) as his own personal property. The Congo, which was in a darkly humorous way renamed “the Free Congo State,” was one of the largest and richest colonies in Africa at the time, producing a huge quantity of natural resources, the most important of which being rubber. Now, if you know anything about the Belgian colonization of the Congo, you know that their acquisition of Congolese rubber was an incredibly brutal and bloody affair. Basically, Belgian soldiers (technically personal agents of King Leopold) would go out into the forests of the Congo where the rubber trees grew, and demand the people there harvest every last ounce of rubber they could. Those who refused or did not produce their assigned quota of rubber would either be killed or, as often as not, have their hands chopped off as punishment. This all created an enormous personal slush fund for King Leopold. Yet the human devastation from this exploitation is simply staggering. These numbers are disputed, but between around 1890-1910, when these brutal practices were at their height, somewhere between eight and ten million people were killed in the Congo as a direct result of the Belgian colonial occupation. Yes, you heard me right, eight to ten million people. I will not dwell on this any further, because unfortunately we just do not have the time here to do this story justice. But if you are interested in the sordid details of all this, I really do highly recommend you read King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild. It is a highly well written, highly well researched, and incredibly urgent book about this truly ghastly period in human history.

Germany’s acquisitions in these negotiations were largely the result of Bismarck’s diplomatic prowess. Germany had, not surprisingly, come late to the colonization game, and Bismarck was able to get a few slices in Africa by playing the other European powers off one another. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about German colonialism, as of the great colonizing powers they were probably the least consequential. However I would be remiss if I did not mention what has been dubbed by history the Herero and Nama genocide. Briefly, the Herero and the Nama were/are two ethnic and cultural groups in what was in the early 20th century called German South-West Africa, but what is today the country of Namibia. In 1904 these two groups, the Herero led by Samuel Maherero and the Nama led by Hendrik Witbooi, rebelled against German colonial rule, and in the process killed a few hundred German farmers living in the colony. In response, the German government launched a brutal suppression of this rebellion, intentionally killing civilians and utilizing the same concentration camp system the British had so recently used in South Africa. Concrete numbers are hard to come by, but certainly tens of thousands died in the slaughter of civilians and fighters as well as starved or died of disease in the concentration camps. Prisoners in these concentration camps were also experimented upon, usually by infecting them with diseases like Typhus and then injecting various chemicals into them to see whether or not the disease was cured. Not surprisingly, this “research” had a big influence on later Nazi scientists, most prominently the infamous Joseph Mengele. In this, we can see just how dangerous European (and in this case especially German) racism could be at this time.

French colonial holdings in Africa had largely grown out of two principal sources: either from ports on the western coast of the continent claimed in centuries past for the trade of, among other things, slaves, and from their conquest in 1830 of Algeria on the Mediterranean Sea coast. French explorers and surveyors had gone out from these places and mapped huge swaths of the continent, as well as lay claim to as much as they could in the fine old tradition of conquerors and colonizers since time immemorial, through the cunning use of flags.

The lands these colonizers claimed were inhabited by a huge variety of peoples of a huge variety of cultures speaking a huge variety of languages. But what they all shared was a common experience with French colonizers. First, the French would come in and lay claim to land they had lived on for centuries if not millennia. Then, there would inevitably come one or numerous military clashes between the French and the native population, which would result in more French military forces coming in who would, inevitably, crush these “rebels” with superior firepower. The French governing style in their colonies differed significantly from the British, whom we will explore in more detail later. Rather than largely leaving the existing power structure in place and simply replacing the former head of that power structure with the crown as the British had mostly done, the French preferred to rule their colonies directly; all governmental offices, from the governors of these colonies all the way down to local district chiefs, would be held by Frenchmen, imposing French law that was transmitted to the colony from Paris. This often meant that life in French colonies was just as brutal as in the Belgian Congo – for example one particularly horrifying report showed that in a particular district in French equatorial Africa, the amount of rubber harvested each month tracked almost exactly with the number of bullets used by the French Army garrison in the region. The point of this colonization was not, as the French liked to tell the world and themselves, to bring “civilization” to these “savage” peoples, but to exploit the areas for its natural resources and (as we shall see a lot during the First World War) for its manpower.

The case of British colonization in Africa is a case of same but different when compared to the French. The part that was the same was the initial encounter with British colonizers: first some explorer or surveyor would pass through an area, claiming it for the British Empire, soon to be followed by settlers and soldiers who would subjugate the people militarily. What differed, was that British administration in their African colonies was far more hands-off than the French or the Belgians [or, as we shall soon see, the Germans]. This is not to imply that British rule was better for the local people than French or Belgian rule; the British were just as racist and at times just as cruel as other contemporary colonizers (as we shall see soon enough). Just that the British approach tended to be, rather than rule these people directly from London by means of local administrators, to elevate local natives as leaders in their own territories, with the understanding that their ultimate loyalty was to the British Empire, not…whoever else had been owed that loyalty before. The idea was to have apolitical bureaucrats set general guidelines for policy in a colony, and then leave it to the colonials (or rather, elite colonials hand-picked by the British for their loyalty) to figure out for themselves how to accomplish these policy guidelines – which usually meant: give us the taxes and resources we demand from you every year. The British took great pride in this system of theirs, and often contrasted it with other colonial empires who got their hands dirty in forcing their subject peoples to assimilate into European culture, a *(insert sarcasm here)* fruitless task among savage peoples. As Lord Cromer, the Consul-General of Egypt, said in regards to his desire to maintain British control over Sudan rather than let the French have it, he had, “the utmost want of confidence in their administrative system as applied to subject races.” This, incidentally, may be the most stereotypically Victorian era sentence I have ever read.

Anyway, I want to finish this discussion of British Africa with two regions that had a particularly interesting and distinct way of being incorporated into the British Empire. These two regions are Egypt and South Africa. Briefly, the British had for more than a century controlled vast holdings in India (which we will discuss more in a bit), which were only able to be maintained and supplied by means of a brisk trade from the Mediterranean Sea through the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean. At first, this trade from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea had to be done by means of camel trains and porters hauling supplies the hundred or so miles between the two bodies of water, but in 1869 the Suez Canal had finished construction, which vastly decreased the time and cost of British trade to India. Nevertheless, control of this piece of territory, controlled by Egypt which was at the time an Ottoman vassal state, was crucial to the maintenance of the British presence in India. So, in 1883 the aforementioned Lord Cromer was appointed by the British government as Consul-General of Egypt, a post he would hold until 1907. Now officially this appointment came from the native governor of Egypt, Tawfiq Pasha, who though officially a vassal of the Ottoman Empire was for all intents and purposes about to become a British puppet. Over the next twenty plus years, Cromer proceeded to establish permanent British hegemony in Egypt, creating a Parliament in Cairo that would rubber stamp all of his (and eventually all of his successors) decisions, and doing his utmost to maintain the vital British control over the Suez Canal by ensuring the loyalty of the rulers of Egypt. This was the classic British ruling style of this period: plying a native governor of a territory with lavish gifts and high offices, while none too subtly hinting to these people by way of military garrisons and displays what the punishment would be for disobedience.

Finally, let’s briefly discuss the British presence in modern-day South Africa. For centuries, the southern tip of the African continent had been populated by a majority of native Bantu-speaking peoples and a minority of Afrikaans speaking settlers descended from Dutch colonists from the 17th century. To say these two groups shared the land peacefully would be an exaggeration, but there was at least something of a balance of power between them and among their own varied and diverse populations. That all changed in the late 1860s and early 1870s with the discovery of massive diamond deposits in South Africa. Suddenly, the British Empire became very interested in controlling this lucrative, ahem, I mean strategically important territory. Suddenly, huge numbers of British adventurers and colonists hoping to strike it rich in the South African diamond mines flooded into South Africa.

From the 1870s to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, there were three important military conflicts in South Africa involving the British Empire: the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 (the last war in British history in which British soldiers war their traditional bright red uniforms, after this they switched to the more practical khaki), the First Boer War of 1880-1881, and the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. For the record, “Boer,” B-O-E-R, is just the Afrikaans/Dutch word for farmer, as these latter two wars were fought between the British Empire and white Afrikaaner farmers and settlers. We don’t really have time to go into a blow by blow of these wars, but I do want to quickly mention what was at stake and how these wars were generally fought, as this will be important going into the First World War. Basically, the British had set up a crown colony in South Africa, whose presence was resisted by the native Zulu nation and the Afrikaaner Republics made up of descendants of white Dutch settlers from the 17th century; namely, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. None of these nations were happy with the British presence, and in each of these conflicts tried to drive out the British invaders so they could live in their country as they saw fit, rather than be turned into merely a gold and diamond mining vassal of Great Britain. These wars, in particular the Boer Wars, saw troops armed with magazine fed bolt-action rifles that allowed a soldier to kill his enemy at distances and with a rapidity of fire heretofore unprecedented. The Second Boer War in particular saw an innovation on the British side that would come to have a truly profound and incredibly dark effect on the coming 20th century; that innovation was the concentration camp.

The idea behind the British concentration camps in South Africa was to surround a vast area of enemy held territory, and then move in and force all of the civilians living in that territory out of their homes and to move into huge camps walled off with barbed wire and guard posts where they were to live until the end of the war. Anyone caught outside of these concentration camps was considered to be an enemy soldier and could be killed on sight. Now these were not the same kind of extermination camps used by the Nazis during the Second World War; the idea was not to kill everyone living in these camps. Nevertheless, the cramped conditions and lack of food and medical supplies made living in these camps incredibly deadly. About 50,000 people, both black natives and Afrikaaner civilians, died in these camps by the end of the war in 1902. This idea of using giant camps to house “hostile” civilian populations is an idea that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

While we’re still talking about the British, let us now turn to what has often been called the crown jewel of the British Empire: India. For the first century and a half or so of British colonization of India, this colonization had not been officially overseen by the British government. Rather, it had been carried out and administered by an entity called the British East India Company. The East India Company was, in essence, a private corporation that had a legal monopoly on all British trade with India, and was given license by the British government to settle and administer as much of the sub-continent as they could. In effect, the East India Company began to transform from a simple (if incredibly massive and wealthy) trading company into a sort of private government for profit. It had governors which wrote laws that were enforced by British soldiers and local men conscripted into a sort of colonial police force/army. Now the company, as the British did in most of their colonial territories, promoted native political leaders, known in India as Raj’s, to act as the official governing apparatuses. But in reality, by the middle of the 19th century, the East India Company ruled India on behalf of the British Crown. This, as I’m sure you can imagine, was a system of colonial governance that was just begging for corruption and poor administration, and complaints had been coming in for years about abuse by local British officials. This tension finally exploded in 1857, with the outbreak of the so-called Sepoy Rebellion. Sepoy was the name given to regiments of local Indian soldiers raised and organized to police the colony with the help of British East India Company troops. While they did enjoy decent wages and a certain sense of dignity and esprit de corps, the Sepoys too had been growing more and more disenchanted with the rule of the East India Company.

The rebellion was actually sparked by, of all things, an issuance of new paper cartridges for the Sepoys rifles. Not to get too into the loading procedure of rifles during this period (though this is actually important to the starting of the rebellion), but basically, soldiers would be issued paper cartridges that contained both the gunpowder and projectile for their rifles. To load the rifle, you had to bite open the paper cartridge, pour the powder down the barrel, and then ram the projectile down the barrel, a projectile that had been pre-lubricated to make it easier to ram down the barrel. Before 1857, the bullets were lubricated with beeswax, but in that year a new lubricant was used that was made of animal fat from pigs and cows. This was a huge problem for the Sepoys, made up mostly of Muslims and Hindus, whose religion forbade them from ingesting any part of pigs and cows respectively. This affront was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back, and in May of 1857 a garrison of Indian Sepoys in Meerut in northern India revolted against their British officers, and marched on the city of Delhi. Within months virtually the entire country was in armed revolt against the British, and thousands and then hundreds of thousands were killed not only in pitched battles, but in horrendous atrocities and mass killings on all sides. The rebellion was not ultimately crushed until November of 1858. In its wake, perhaps as many as 800,000 people had died.

The result of this was that the British decided to end the haphazard and corrupt way in which the East India Company governed India. The Mughal Empire (which was the native country through which the East India Company officially ruled the country) was dissolved and the East India Company lost its right to govern India. Instead, the British government itself would rule the country, though maintaining a series of client Raj’s that were smaller and easier to control than the single vast Mughal Empire. In 1876, in an effort to even further formalize this rule, Queen Victoria was crowned as Empress of India (after which point apparently British Prime Minister Disraeli loved referring to his queen as “Your Imperial Majesty”) and was now the legal sovereign of 230 million Indians. These hundreds of millions would play a key role in the British participation of the First World War, giving the British Empire untold amounts of their wealth, resources, and eventually their lives.

To end today, let us talk about an event that would bring all of these colonizing powers together, so they could each claim a slice of perhaps the largest and wealthiest prize of all: China. For the last century or so China, once the most powerful country in the world, had experienced a period of deep and traumatic decline. After the Opium Wars of the middle of the 19th century, which saw the British humble the Qing Dynasty in an effort to secure the right to export opium and other trade goods to China, other powers had begun to encroach more and more on Chinese territory and sovereignty. By the end of the 19th century Japan had forced China to cede control of Korea, Russia had begun to colonize the northern province of Manchuria, Germany had gained control of the port city of Tsingtao, Britain had of course seized the great city of Hong Kong, and all the other Western powers had gained trading concessions in China and maintained diplomatic, economic, and military outposts in various ports throughout the country.

This was all deeply upsetting not just to the Chinese Imperial government, who for the most part felt they had little choice but to accede to these concessions, but to patriotic Chinese people throughout the country. So, in March of 1900, a group known as the Fists of Righteous Harmony (whom the Westerners derisively referred to as the “Boxers”) launched an insurrection against the various Western occupiers and began destroying foreign outposts and killing foreign traders and missionaries. The Chinese government was divided as to how to respond to this destruction, with many siding with the foreign powers who wanted these “Boxers” crushed, while the Empress Dowager openly sided with the Boxers in their goal of driving out the foreigners. This makes it all difficult to describe what the Boxer Rebellion was, or indeed whether or not it was a “rebellion” at all. If it was a rebellion, who exactly were they rebelling against? Their own government? Well, as I said the government was divided as to how to respond to this violence. And if they weren’t rebelling against their own government, how can an attack on foreign legations be considered a “rebellion”?

Regardless, violence and destruction soon spread throughout the country, particularly in the North. Soon the “rebels” had stormed the Imperial capital of Beijing (often referred to as “Peking” in primary sources from the era) and laid siege to the foreign district of the city. Eventually military forces from eight different countries banded together in what was dubbed the “Eight Nation Alliance,” specifically Britain, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, the United States, Italy, and Austria-Hungary, under the command of a German general marched on Beijing and lifted the siege of the foreign legation. This force proceeded to methodically crush the Boxers, and by September of 1901 it was all over. Some 30,000 people had been killed by the Boxers and at least a hundred thousand by the Eight Nation Alliance. The result was a humiliating peace forced on the Chinese Imperial government, including the payment of reparations and the granting of even more territorial and trade concessions to the foreign powers. This weakened the Imperial government to the point that by 1911, it would be toppled by a republican insurrection that ended more than 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. And all the while, the hungry European (and Japanese) sharks circled around their clearly wounded and dying prey.

In all of this, I think we can see that Europe during this time period was becoming a bit obsessed with growing their territorial control far beyond what could be considered their national interest. Invading, conquering, and occupying land belonging to someone else is never pretty. But while rarely justifiable, this process can at least be understandable when there is a clear issue of national security or defense at stake. But the 19th and early 20th centuries saw European countries extending their borders far, far beyond what could be considered reasonable to national security or defense. Clearly, the drive to annex more and more territory had become and end in and of itself to the statesmen of Europe. As the most vociferous British colonialist of this period Cecil Rhodes said around this time, “I would annex the planets if I could.” So far, the party was still going strong. But the legacy of colonialism would come with a great cost not just for the colonized, but for the colonizers, during the 20th century.

         Before we go today, I’d like to briefly mention something to you, my faithful listeners, as we are finally about to get to the beginning of the First World War. Producing this podcast has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I have ever done in my life. To those of you who have listened so far, I can’t tell you in words how much it means to me, and all I can say is thank you, thank you so so much. Now I hate doing this kind of thing, but I would like to ask those of you out there who have listened so far for your help. Producing this podcast is something I personally do in my spare time, unfortunately not only has it yet to generate any income for me, but it does actually cost a bit of money to produce. Paying for the website, hosting server, and especially books for research, all costs a bit of money. Now I want to make two things clear about this: one, I would not be doing this if I did not want to, and I did not create this show out of a desire to generate profit. Trust me, there are much sounder financial investments out there than starting a history podcast in the year of our lord 2020. Second, while I am about to ask for your help here, that does not mean I am going anywhere anytime soon. Nor am I ever going to put this show behind a pay wall. I want to be clear about that; the Seminal Catastrophe is free of charge to all listeners, no ifs ands or buts.

         However, if you are so inclined, I cannot tell you how much it would mean to me if you would help me to support the show. There are three basic ways you can do this: one, I have set up a Patreon account, which you can find at, or you can find a link to it on the website, under “Support the Show.” That again,, or find the link at under “support the show.” There, you can sign up for one of four (currently) monthly patron positions, each of which comes with its own special montly reward. If you do not want to become a monthly patron, you can always just give a straight donation on paypal, which you can also find on the website under support the show, or go to and give whatever you like. And if you are for any reason at all unable to support the show financially, then I humbly ask that you please rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts, or just tell your friends about the show. I really understand that not everyone is able to support projects like this financially, and if you are in that position I do not want you to stretch your wallet even thinner on your behalf. Only if you can afford to would I like your help on this. But please, if everyone listening to this left a quick review and rating on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen, it would really help other people to find the show. Finally, I’d also like to remind everyone that you can email me directly at, that again is One of my favorite parts of producing this show is hearing from listeners, so please, if you have any comments or suggestions or anything at all to say about the podcast, by all means, drop me a line.

         I’d just like to thank you all once again for listening, and any support at all, even if it is just with your earphones, is greatly appreciated. Alright, with that all out of the way, next week we well and truly move into the setting the stage of the First World War, in our second arc of this series: the July Crisis.



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