The Boer War led to a decline in imperial sentiment. Do you agree?
Many sources, both contemporary and secondary, suggest that economics, politics, and harsh army tactics as a result of and during the Boer War led to a decline in imperial sentiment in Britain. However, there is also some evidence to contrast this which suggests that this war led to an increase in imperial sentiment. Overall, my opinion is that the Boer War did more to assist the decrease in imperialism than to maintain it, but evidence for both sides of the dispute must be evaluated before a conclusion can be reached.
On the one hand, I would argue that there was a decline in imperial sentiment in Britain after the Boer War, and that this was the result of economic developments in the empire after the war, although there are arguments for and against this interpretation.
One argument stating that British Imperial sentiment declined after the Boer War is based on the suggestion by Nicholas Owen in the Oxford History of the British Empire Volume VI, that the empire was weakened economically by the war as ‘ Hobson argued that the mal-distribution of wealth at home meant that domestic markets were characterized by under-consumption and... Only a narrow group benefitted from Empire, its costs were borne by the nation as a whole’. This implies that those who suffered financial problems as a result of the war were unlikely to be in support of the Empire. This interpretation of imperialism as being a by-product of capitalism came to be very influential amongst left wing writers and politicians in the early 1900’s, suggesting that the war would have had a significant impact on decreasing the imperial sentiment of these people. This also helped to lead to the Liberal majority government that was elected after the war in 1906, as although not all of the electorate had read Hobson’s economics, but the idea spread that the war had cost too much and gone on for too long. My interpretation of Hobson’s...