Particularly today most men assume that Africa lies far afield from the centers of our burning social problems, and especially from our present problem of world war.

Yet in a very real sense Africa is a prime cause of this terrible overturning of civilization which we have lived to see; and these words seek to show how in the Dark Continent are hidden the roots, not simply of war today but of the menace of wars tomorrow …

So much for the past; and now, today: the Berlin Conference to apportion the rising riches of Africa among the white peoples met on the 15th day of November 1884 … Before the Berlin Conference had finished its deliberations … Germany [annexed] an area over half as large again as the whole German empire in Europe. Only in its dramatic suddenness was this undisguised robbery of the land of 7 million natives different from the methods by which Great Britain and France got 4 million square miles each, Portugal three-quarters of a million, and Italy and Spain smaller but substantial areas …

Whence comes this new wealth? It comes primarily from the darker nations of the world.

It all began, singularly enough, like the present war, with Belgium … Leopold of Belgium was first on his feet, and the result was the Congo Free State …

While the exploration of the valley of the Congo was the occasion of the scramble for Africa, the cause lay deeper. The Franco-Prussian War turned the eyes of those who sought power and dominion away from Europe. Already England was in Africa, cleaning away the debris of the slave trade and half consciously groping toward the new imperialism. France, humiliated [by losing the war] and impoverished, looked toward a new northern-African empire sweeping from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. More slowly Germany began to see the dawning of a new day, and, shut out from America by the Monroe Doctrine, looked to Asia and Africa for colonies. Portugal sought anew to make good her claim to her ancient African realm; and thus a continent where Europe claimed but a tenth of the land in 1875, was in 25 more years practically absorbed …

Such nations it is that rule the modern world. Their national bond is no mere sentimental patriotism, loyalty, or ancestor worship. It is increased wealth, power, and luxury for all classes on a scale the world never saw before. Never before was the average citizen of England, France, and Germany so rich, with such splendid prospects of greater riches.

Whence comes this new wealth and on what does its accumulation depend? It comes primarily from the darker nations of the world—Asia and Africa, South and Central America, the West Indies and the islands of the South Seas …

The present world war is, then, the result of jealousies engendered by the recent rise of armed national associations of labor and capital whose aim is the exploitation of the wealth of the world mainly outside the European circle of nations.