What started World War 1?
Complex to answer. Europe was the cooking pot of WW1. The building situation of large conscription armies, restive Nationalism and a old prevalent view that wars provided quick solutions to problems.
Europe was the Europe of post Napoleon. The system of Monarchies that was the prevailing political system was crumbling. Popular revolution was always pressing. Industrialization and the need to industrialize was an incredible new and maturing economic force. The politics of the past could not keep up with the momentum of change.
In this the forces of colonialism, nationalism and democracy stewed.
The Empires of Europe began to practice "Brinkmanship" that is to say going to the edge of war without actually going to war as a diplomatic tool. The people and institutions weren't up to the task.
War was inevitable. Industrialization, Nationalism and Militarism insured that the war would be an apocalypse.
The Balkans was the initial spark that set everything off but it could have easily been the crisis in North Africa a few years earlier.
There was no sense of the impending disaster that was to come. Every nation entered the conflict with optimism and nationalist pride.
The Balkans was a place where where all the forces seemed to be focused. Nationalism in the ancient national, religious and cultural groups had become recently successful. The territories of these groups were hopelessly overlapping and there was falling out between the groups. The Empires stepped in to protect their on interests.
Colonial interests of the big empires created a desire by them to create satellite states by force. Industrialization made large amounts of arms and war materials available. Socialism and liberalism created rising expectations among the people.
The combination of impulses, emotions, psychology, economics, culture, politics, diplomacy and political institutions all created WW1.
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