The Great Depression
Great Depression was a period of global economic downturn running from 1929 to 1939 making it the longest and most severe depression to occur in western continent. This resulted in a plethora of changes in economic institutions, and macroeconomic policy (Pells & Romer, n.d). Although it began in the United States, it was a culmination of a sequence of successive events and factors, which include among others racial considerations, competition, economic factors and politics of the day in and outside the US.
The great depression was primarily a result of series of economic events. First of this was the clash of the stock market in 1929 following an uncontrolled sale of shares. In 1927, businesses had begun to falter, after a long period of economic stability especially following the gains from the scramble for Africa (Stanley, 1890). This saw the banks failing their clients leading to loss of savings and temporal closure of shops leaving surviving business under a serious period of economic turmoil. However, this sudden turn of events was degenerated by an implementation of reckless economic policies by a Hoover’s administration displaying its naivety on such economic matters. Most notable was the Congress move to implement the Smooth-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930 to create special interests (Pells ; Romer, n.d). This measure was specifically intended to cause tariff hike against the wish of many economics who had repeatedly warned of the danger of such a policy. The policy demonstrated huge inability for the political class to intervene.
The policy opened floodgates to unfair competition and elicited disapproval from major trading nations. To protect their interests, most states retaliated by raising their tariffs in equal measure. This had the most devastating impact on international trade making the situation worse than it had been spreading its effects to other states. The yokes of great depression began to loosen after the election of President Roosevelt.
The ideologies of fascism were first indoctrinated within racial empires before spreading through interstate alliances. Thus, the empires were important components that affected WWI. During the 19th and 20th centuries, empires were expansionist and competed for the economic and military power. Most empires were organized along racial lines, and aggression between them was based on racial considerations. The most culpable empires were the ottoman, Russia and Austria empires whose common interests led to Balkans war and ultimately the WWI. Empires were seen as vehicles through which racial groups revived their old rivalries and forge for common interests.
World War I
Like the great depression, the WWI was a culmination of several powers working independently. Before and during the WWI, interactions between various states were marked with long series of competition as each state was trying to amass economic, political and military power. Militarism, as it came to be known, for instance, during the 19th century, was an era of military competition between major European nations. It was a policy of military alliances, approved by neighbors, triggering the need for alliances. This saw the creation of Triple Alliance In 1882 and Triple Entente that was later to function as important war fronts during the WWI. The perception was supported by a misleading ideology that war was good for nations. The imperial competition was also a major factor in the formation of the alliances causing conflicts between colonies that could not come into an agreement. For instance, the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 is believed to have been precipitated by aspirations over China.
The political assassination of Ferdinand and his wife is considered the most immediate reason that fomented WWI. The death was interpreted as orchestrated by the Serbian government, which resulted in a July Crisis, a period was riven with diplomatic, political miscalculations and eventual war declarations (Mombauer, 1914). Germany imperialist strategy was aggressive and expansive and readily went into war to showcase her military capabilities. Under various defense treaties, countries felt confident to go into war. Racial consideration is also a neglected dynamic that shaped WWI. The Eastern question and the role of Balkans served to increase hatred between major European powers. In the period 19th and 20th century, the Ottoman Empire had lost land in Balkans to people who lived there, and Austria and Russia hoped to expand into the region at the expense of Ottoman. Austria saw the growth of Slav nationalism among Serbia as a threat. The eventual Balkan wars left Austria bitter waiting for the right time to destroy Serbia. This opportunity emerged during the death of Ferdinand, but other states came to her rescue spreading the war.
The growth of economic imperialism and capitalism was also a major defining factor that affected the direction of the war. During the period 1914, Germany had become a major industrial and commercial power, with a stable workforce and soaring population. Economic stability contributed to the constant growth of military force, and growth of economic and colonial rivalries. This saw to clash of at least one or more traditional rivalries at the time. The events following the scramble for Africa had created rivalries between major powers and meant that such clashes were inevitable (Stanley, 1890).
The Great Depression