Nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and the system of alliances were four
main factors that pressed the great powers towards this explosive war.”
(Clock Magazine, 1915 Aug. 17). Although Francis Ferdinand was
assassinated and sparked the beginning of the war, this however was not the
main cause. The four major roles that played in the cause of World War I
were Nationalism, Militarism, Imperialism, and the Alliance System.
Nationalism: a philosophy that is purely focused on patriotism,
loyalty to one’s nation and seeing its nation as the superior nation. In
example of a nationalistic cause in the war, Austria-Hungary was getting
apprehensive when the Slavs in northern part of their empire wanted to
unite with Serbia. Of course, having a strong nationalism in Austria-
Hungary, Austria-Hungary started being concerned. They did not want to
lose their land and power to Serbia, and sooner or later, this lead to
Austria preparing themselves for a conflict/battle in case it ever broke
Militarism: a philosophy that bases one’s organization purely on the
strict ideas of strong military, control over aggression, and mass
production of weaponry and any other military supplies. The first conflict
started when Germany became jealous of Great Britain’s Navy and their
increased naval production. At the time, Britain had the best all-around
Navy in Europe, including the dreadnoughts; a ship designed to be superior
to any other ever constructed. Threatened by this, Germany started a huge,
mass production of weaponry, ships, and any other military means that meant
conflict. Doing so, Germany wished to go in competition against Britain
and their Navy, and hopefully scare them into submission.
Imperialism: a philosophy stating that, to create or reform a country
into a powerful country, it must take over all means of political,
economical and military status of another country through aggression.
Europe at this time was very focused on imperialism. The entire struggle
for power, wealth and superiority can be pinpointed by this concept.
Countries in Europe had colonies almost in every continent during this time
(mostly Africa and Southeast Asia). The numbers of colonies grew massively
in a very short amount of time. Sooner or later, conflicts and
competitions started rising when colonies were fighting over the areas they
colonized over. Some fought because another colony invaded them, some
fought to take over a colony, and some fought just because their countries
were involved in conflict due to militarism and other issues.
The Alliance System played a major role in the World War. Perhaps we
can label the alliance system as the conflict itself. That is because
there were 2 alliance systems during the World War and those two allies
were the two sides that fought each other in World War I. First was the
Triple Entente, which consisted of Great Britain, France and Russia. The
other was called the Triple Alliance, which consisted of Austria-Hungary,
Germany and Italy. Initially, Germany formed the Triple Alliance with
Austria and Italy. France immediately felt threatened and formed an
alliance with Great Britain and Russia. The two alliances swore to each
other that when one of the members of the alliance was threatened or
attacked, the alliance would come and aid them. Such idea like this played
in the part of the “chain reaction” leading to World War One.