Imperialism: Reasons for European Success

This video is part of Crash Course World History, written by Raoul Meyer and Teva Vidal, and presented by John Green

In the 19th century, European nations acquired empires. Why Europe and not the economically successful China, for example? The story of Britain’s success lies partly in its domination of China by pushing opium and later waging war.

And why was Africa so vulnerable?

The answer had its roots in the Industrial Revolution — technological superiority and in particular, the Maxim gun. Britain terrorised India and much of Africa into submission, thereafter co-opting rulers in both nations to govern under supervision, using the carrot and stick (or machine gun) technique.

Those empires have now devolved, but Europeans and Americans still consume ‘cash crops’ — crops originally grown in conquered lands specifically for Europe’s benefit — at low prices, as the market is established.

I graduated in English language and literature with Latin subsidiary. I write poetry, act, and have worked in reference and educational publishing for decades. I was commissioned in 1994 to write The Ladybird Book of Kings and Queens, did extensive editing and writing for Harraps 20th-century History series, and was one of the contributors to Helicon's Book of the Millennium, a 4-volume children's world history book.