The Second Boer War resulted in imperialism being discredited

Length: 767 words

Towards the end of the Second Boer war in 1899, people had blamed the failure of the Boer War on imperialism; the policy of extending the rule of authority of an empire to foreign countries. Due to the mistreatment of other countries; which include the human atrocities in South Africa, where the burning of farms took place alongside the use of concentration camps, it became hard to build up a case for Imperialism.

However, in Britain there was fierce support for both side, which was shown in the 1900 Khaki Election, where it was proved that a majority of people agreed with the Conservative view on continuing with the war. The linguistic devices used in both sources 4 and 5 create a negative opinions of imperialism, in source 4, the words which are used include ‘dragged’ and ‘discredited’. The words used are linked directly with the title of the question, which suggest this source is trying to place a negative slant on Imperialism. Source 5 also used negative language when mentioning the aristocrats ‘manipulating’ public opinion.

You can infer that this reference is about the aristocrats leaning on the national newspapers to over emphasise positive stories about the war; a particular example of

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this is Robert Baden Powell, who was known to be the ‘media’s darling’ during the time of the war. Additionally, source 4 uses short sentences to emphasise what the author of this source is explaining. It had cost ‘? 200 million and over 22,000 British lives’. From the linguistic devices used within the source we can gather that there was an extensive amount of lives lost and a excessive amount of money wasted for what could be labelled as a needless war.

While source 6 disagrees with source 4, the sacrifices in connection with the war were not that great. The use of long and short sentences in source 6 indicated the use of opinions, which is deemed right because the source is a speech. The source accentuates that imperialism was not discredited because of the outcome of the war. Nonetheless the reason behind Sir John French saying this is ‘masked’ is due to the nature of the source. It is a speech at the time from a senior officer who actually served in South Africa.

Although he was a witness in South Africa there was little chance of him swaying the public opinion back in Britain. However, we can use this source as an indicator of a serving officer in the Boer War, but this opinion cannot account for the rest Britain’s population; during this time period women were unable to vote up until 1918 and a percentage of lower class men didn’t vote at all, so the view point is mainly that of the upper class.

Both sources 5 and 6 are directly influenced by their writers; in source 5 Nicolas Owen writes’ in his 1902 work, Imperialism: a New study, J. A Hobson argued… ’ He used the ideas of a well known communist author at the time to help him strengthen his ideas. This would decrease the reliability of the source as a communist would be strongly opposed to the idea of an Empire and its rulers. However, in source 6 is a first hand source; a speech spoken at the time. It’s purpose is therefore to be heard by the masses, and opinions and statements given would be manipulated to have a greater impact and influence on the people who it is being directed to.

Speeches are rarely spontaneous, and usually are drafted several time in order to get the specific meaning across. This source believes that feeling of imperialism was heightened instead of discredited, he states; ‘I do not think that the sacrifices to do with the war were too great’ which suggests that the casualty rate was expected and was neither bad nor good. He also uses repetition of ‘Empire’ to create a positive emphasis about the war and the Empire, this emphasis is subliminal and not direct so that Sir John French wants to convey a positive message about the Empire.

In conclusion, I don’t agree that that the Second Boer War resulted in Imperialism being discredited due to the outcome of the Khaki Election which clearly showed the public’s view of the war. During the aftermath of the War, Britain was able to benefit economically; and soon used South Africa as an port and profited from its diamonds. This brought long term prosperity after the short term grief of the dead count and the overall embarrassment of losing some key battles like ‘Spion Kop’ which saw the most men killed in the shortest area in any battle ever fought.

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