The Bloody Trail of Imperialism – the origins of the First World War
by Eddie Glackin
Pubs. Communist Party of Ireland
This slim volume packs a big punch. Although its subtitle could lead to misconceptions that the book deals only with the immediate causes of the First World War, whereas Mr. Glackin begins his historical analysis a hundred years prior to 1914. And he is no doubt right to do so, because he takes us back to the true causes of the ‘Great War’. He demonstrates concisely how it resulted from the ongoing battle between competing imperialist nations for the spoils of Africa, Asia and Latin America which had been rumbling on since the early 1800s after the defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of feudal power in Europe. This is a classic history primer for young people, but also extremely informative for an older generation that has perhaps forgotten or never knew how bloodthirsty, rapacious and vicious the competition for colonies was, as well as to what depths of human depravity, and untold greed this scramble for land and resources reached. The emerging capitalist nations were desperate for new markets and sources of raw materials – the African, Latin American and Asian continents offered easy pickings. With their superior weaponry and industrial power, the big colonialist nations of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and, somewhat later, the USA, pillaged and massacred their way to achieve their goals. Glacklin expertly and with utmost clarity charts this process with many examples to underline his points: the virtual genocide of the Herero people in what is today Namibia by the Germans, the first concentration camps set up by the British in South Africa, the murders and horrendous mass mutilation of the Congolese as a means of intimidation by Belgium, as well as many other examples. Of course, these rampaging colonial nations were bitterly and heroically resisted by the indigenous populations, but they didn’t stand a chance. The First World War represented the culmination of this battle for colonies and resources with one of the most senseless examples of mass murder on European soil. It left an emergent USA as the strongest global power, consolidated British dominance in India and Africa, leaving France and Spain with a few sops, and Germany routed and robbed of all its colonies.
This book is well worth the €8.00 and should be on the bookshelf of anyone who has a keen interest in history and wishes to have it explained as a process seen from an intelligent Marxist perspective.