Salisbury (1830-1903) in a famous speech in 1898: “You can roughly divide the nations of the world in the living and the dying.” In his famous inaugural lecture in Freiburg, the German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) said that the founding of the German Empire in 1871 would have been only a prank if it did not lead to further colonial expansion and to German participation in world politics.
This belief in the survival of the fittest in the field of international relations was not necessarily racist, since according to this view the struggle for existence was valid for the competition among the “white” European nations as well.
This imperialist mood was directly influenced by the idea of the “survival of the fittest”.
Contemporary Social Darwinism was explained in a nutshell by the conservative British Prime Minister Lord Robert A.
Many statesmen before 1914 were convinced that the concept of the struggle for existence was also valid in foreign policy.
Empires and nation states were seen as entities that could rise and fall.
In most of the imperial powers (Britain, France, Germany, and Italy), elites with different backgrounds were convinced that only expanding countries with colonies or informal spheres of influence would be able to survive in the future.
It was taken for granted that hierarchies of civilizations existed, with the industrialized European countries and the United States at the top.
In 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion in China all imperial competition was suspended.
Faced with an extra-European enemy the imperial powers united in an unprecedented fashion and dispatched an army that suppressed the rebellion.