It is easy to focus on the technologies behind the new imperialism, to marvel at its speed, and to consider the vast breadth of European empires while overlooking what lay behind it all: violence. The cases of the Congo and the genocide of the Herero and Nama are rightly remembered, and studied by historians, as iconic expressions of imperialistic violence, but they were only two of the more extreme and shocking examples of the ubiquitous violence that established and maintained all of the imperial conquests of the time. The scale of that violence on a global scale vastly exceeded any of the relatively petty squabbles that had constituted European warfare itself up to that point - the only European war that approaches the level of bloodshed caused by imperialism was probably the 30 Years’ War of the seventeenth century, but imperialism’s death toll was still far higher. Until 1914, Europeans exported that violence hundreds or thousands of miles away as they occupied whole continents. In 1914, however, it came home to roost in the First World War.
Image Citations (Wikimedia Commons):
Steamer on the Congo - Public Domain
Maxim Gun - Public Domain
Opium War - Public Domain
Sepoy Rebellion - Public Domain
Mutilated Children in the Congo - Public Domain
Russo-Japanese War - Public Domain