Causes of World War One


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 out.


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.