COLONIALISM,NEO-COLONIALISM & IMPERIALISM
What is Imperialism?
Imperialism is the process of extending the rule of government beyond the boundaries of its originalstate.
Imperialismestablishes a relationship, formal or informal, in which one stateuses direct military or
economicmeans, to control the politicalsovereignty of another politicalentity.
Imperialism therefore implies the policy of extending the control or authority over foreign entities as a
means of acquisition and/or maintenance of empires, either through direct control of territories or through
indirectmethods of exerting control on the politics or economies of othercountries. The term is used by
some to describe the policy of a country in maintaining colonies and dominanceover distant lands,
regardless of whether the country calls itself an empire.
Imperialists normally hold the beliefthat the acquisition and maintenance of empires is a positive good,
combined with an assumption of cultural or othersuch superiority inherent to imperial power. However,
imperialismhas often been considered to be an exploitive evil.
Marxisitsuse the term imperialismas Lenin defined it: "thehighest stage of capitalism",specifically the era in
whichmonopoly finance capitalbecomes dominant, forcing the empires to compete amongstthemselves
increasinglyfor control over resourcesand markets all over the world. This control maytake the form of
geopolitical machinations, military adventures, or financial maneuvers.
It is worth noting that Marx himself did not propound a theory of imperialism, and in contrast with later
Marxist thinkers generally saw the colonialism of European powers as having a progressive aspect, rather
than seeing it as the pillage of thosecountries in favor of the European centrecountries.
Many writers have used the terms colonialism and imperialism interchangeably, as if there is little difference
betweenthese two phenomena. Yet an important difference between the twophenomena is the presence of
a significant number of settlers from the colonizing power in the colonized state.
Whereassettlement may be the mostimportant feature of colonialism, it is generally acknowledgedthat
colonialism involves much more than the immigration of people from one region to another one.
According to Michael Doyle, colonialism is one of the possible outcomes of imperialism,achieved either by
force, by political collaboration, by economic,social or cultural dependence.
Objectives of Imperialism
EconomicGain: to secure raw materials, or gain access to trade routes or to the sea
NationalPrestige: imperialism is often portrayed as `manifest destiny' or intrinsic superiority
Military or Defense Needs: to gain control over strategicareas
SurplusPopulation: over-populatedstates can find reliefthrough migration to colonies
`WhileMan's Burden': obligation to civilize savages
Marxist-Leninist View: imperialism compelled by control marketsfor surplus productionand
investment, Communists were imperialist too
Examples of Imperialism
US Imperialism: under the guise of the MonroeDoctrine (1823) the US exertedcontrol over Latin America
under the guise of protecting interference of the European powers in the affairs of independent states of
the New World.
Russian Imperialism: initially the imperialistic urgewas confined to contiguous territories but with advent of
the Cold War, Russianimperialism spread to the Asian, Africanand South American continents, filling in
the vacuum left by the decreasing influence of colonial European powers.
Japanese Imperialism: as Japan industrialized andbecame increasingly militarizedprior to WWII, it annexed
parts of Korea and China. Thereafter Japanese imperialistic influence hasprimarily beeneconomic.
Studentsare advised to read the following chapters to develop a better understanding of the various
principals highlighted in this hand-out:
Chapter 14 in `"A Study of International Relations" by Dr. SultanKhan.
In addition to reading from the textbook, please visit the following web-pages for this lecture, which
provideuseful and interesting information:
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