The growing unevenness in the development of the capitalist countries led to the emergence of various theories of the struggle for world domination. They constituted the content of the imperialist policy of many leading powers, the continuation of which was to become an imperialist war.
At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, under the influence of the industrial revolution in Europe in the balance of power of the great countries radical changes occurred. In the middle of the XIX century, Great Britain was the only major industrial power in the world. A significant role in industrial production was played by France.
However, by the time of unification, Germany had overtaken it in coal mining, although France still maintained its position in the smelting of pig iron and steel. During the reign of Bismarck, Germany was ahead of France in the development of industry, and in the last decade of the XIX century caught up with the UK. At the beginning of the XX century, German heavy industry production surpassed the British one.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the six major centers of power — England, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and Japan — had imperialist intentions of expansion. Complications on the periphery exacerbated the already existing tensions between the great powers in Europe, especially in connection with the expected collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary.
Germany, the youngest colonial power and dominant in the European continent, felt left out in the colonial sphere. The four strongest great powers of Europe adjoined several medium and smaller states that had access to the Atlantic – Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
So was Italy, which, as a Mediterranean country, was forced to limit its passage through the Suez Canal to carry out its colonial expansion. Of the great European powers, only Austria-Hungary, which had access to the Adriatic, was essentially excluded from colonial expansion overseas and strove for relatively modest territorial “compensation” in the Balkans.
The maneuvers of all rival great powers in the struggle to strengthen their positions caused tension and conflicts, which in general formed the framework for the world war that erupted in 1914.
The turning point in the development of German expansion on a global scale was the declaration by the ruling circles of the country of the intentions of world domination. They should have been carried out in all possible ways – indirect (peaceful, or economic) and direct (annexationist) and served to implement the world strategic and geopolitical plans of German imperialism.
This policy of Germany was the German version of imperialism of the early 20th century. Its essence was to raise the German Empire from the level of a continental power to the position of world power, on an equal footing with Britain.
However, even such a relatively modest change in the power status of Germany compared to plans for the establishment of world domination was such a radical turn in the European and global system of states. In accordance with historical experience, this policy might be considered as one of the primary sources of the War.