Monday, October 14, 2019

Imperialism and Colonization Essay Example for Free

Imperialism and Colonization Essay Colonization and imperialism are inherently associated with an economic model that is meant to boost the economy of the colonizing power (herein referred to as benefactor state) by providing target market for manufactured goods and source of raw materials. During the twentieth century most colonies gained independence or autonomy resulting in a disruption of the economic model associated with colonization and imperialism. A current trend is globalization which necessitates a complete reversal of the economic role of states. The role has changed from serving as a market for the benefactor state to manufacturing products using inexpensive labor that are then sold back to the benefactor state. Many states (particularly in Africa) have not been able to adjust to this change and have, thus, been caught between colonization and globalization without strong economic ties to other nations. To minimize conflict within a state and between states, the respective nations must have ties that are strong enough to transcend national boundaries. This is evident when examining global trends such as colonization and globalization which tend to focus nations that would normally be at odds on a common goal. In the case of colonization, natives of occupied territories are inclined to unite against the occupying power. A current trend towards globalization has forced nations to unite because of an increased economic dependence between states. The claim (albeit untrue) that there has never been a war between two countries having McDonalds underscores the importance of economic ties that can transcend national boundaries. A History of Imperialism and Colonization During the height of colonialism, Britain controlled over a quarter of the land and one third of the population. Combined, Britain and eight other European countries controlled approximately 84% of the earth’s surface. (Conklin: 1) What factors allowed Europeans to exert such a strong influence on other parts of the world? More importantly, what were the motivations for subjugating the rest of the world that have made such a profound impact even in the modern world? J. A. Hobson describes the driving force behind olonization as â€Å"the investor who cannot find at home the profitable use he seeks for his capital, and insists that his Government should help him to profitable and secure investments abroad. † (Hobson: 15) On the practical side of colonization, armies are needed and colonization can’t occur until an industrial revolution begins. Industrialization requires cheap labor, a navy, a target market to buy surplus p roducts and raw materials. Without a large enough target audience for selling goods, the industrial revolution would have been stymied and Britain’s economy and industry could not have advanced as rapidly. Essentially, raw materials are shipped out of colonies to the colonizing country, manufactured into a finished product using cheap labor and then sold back to the colonies at profit. (Kollenbroich) Undoubtedly, there are other factors that motivated European powers to colonize; Christianity, national pride and civilizing those perceived as savages to name some. However, there is no denying that most colonies became economically dependent on the colonizing country. This implies that economic reasons, regardless of other motivating factors for colonization, were a driving force in colonization. In fact, the factors such as Christianity, national pride and the mission to civilize would often go hand in hand with the economic motivation and serve to conceal the economic reasons from the general public. (Kollenbroich) M. K. Ghandi agrees with that statement, â€Å"England is a nation of shopkeepers,† (attributed to Napoleon) and goes on to describe how the British, â€Å"hold whatever dominions they have for the sake of their commerce. † (Ghandi: 25) Continuing on the same note, Ghandi explains that the British view the world as a vast market for their goods. According to Ghandi, the British didn’t conquer India per se; rather the acceptance of British commerce, lifestyle and law allowed the British to govern India. For this very reason, Ghandi promotes a lifestyle lacking in machinery. â€Å"What did India do before these articles were introduced? Precisely the same should be done today. † (Ghandi 28-29) In Ghandi’s opinion, removing economic ties to Britain and rest of Europe, India would eventually attain sovereignty. Clearly, the economy plays a vital role in colonization and is a strong motivation by providing raw materials and markets to sell finished goods. The question that begs to be asked is: How were Europeans able to convince or force other parts of the world to accept colonization? The answer has everything to do with image. If natives didn’t believe that the Europeans were superior, revolts would have been much more widespread. In turn, European militaries would have been spread too thin and outnumbered. The key to preventing this lies in creating the illusion for natives that the Europeans are superior in every way and resistance is futile. The style of rule is as important as the fact the Europeans are in control of the colony. Typically the French would use a divide and conquer strategy. They would bring in French administrators and subject the natives to French culture. This was effective because the French often grouped tribes or groups of natives that didn’t get along. Instead of fighting the French, the natives would fight amongst themselves. On the other hand, the British would preserve parts of the local system and choose natives leaders. This was effective for the British because it gave the natives the illusion of a certain level of autonomy while the British remained in control. Kollenbroich) The socio-economic model in most colonies was noticeably lacking a middle class. On one hand there are the natives who are often dirt poor by European standards and on the other hand there are the business and elite classes that are continually sucking profit out of the colonies. This is somewhat true of even Europe because of industrialization which left a large lower class working in the factories fo r minimal wages. The Trend of Globalization The push towards a more global economy has several important consequences. Many states that were once colonizing powers have seen their role shift to that of economic powerhouses with global cities that serve as command and control centers for the economy. (Sassen, 4) In the wake of globalization, an increasing number of firms have centralized their business presence in the downtown areas of global cities and placed numerous factories in foreign states to take advantage of lower labor prices. The placement or acquisition of factories in other states is known as foreign direct investment (FDI). The five major exporters of capital (United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France and Germany) account for 70 percent of FDI (Sassen 11). According to Sassen, â€Å"the growth in FDI has been embedded in the internationalization of production of goods and services. † (Sassen: 10) This is readily evident when considering the number of factories being built in Latin American and Southeast Asian. The semiconductor explosion coupled with other industries choosing to locate in Asia has led to an â€Å"emergence of Southeast Asia as a crucial transnational space for production. (Sassen: 11) Prominent American companies have increasingly moved the manufacturing of products offshore to take advantage of more lax labor laws and significantly lower wages. The transition from colonization to globalization has seen the role of foreign countries move from buying products to creating products cheaply. The economics of intervention has played a more dominant role in foreign policy and will continue to do so in the future. For decades the United States and Soviet Union struggled to see capitalism and communism spread, respectively. The struggle played out both economically and militarily in many countries throughout the world and is important because more often than not decolonized countries would be in need of economic and sometimes military intervention. More recently, the United States and other countries have faced decisions about whether to intervene in situations such as Somalia and other African states. Interventions such as these are often viewed by the much of the public as too little too late and this can be attributed, at least in part, to a lack of economic interest in the conflict. In fact, intervention costs millions and sometimes billions of dollars which, in many politicians’ eyes, is not justified. To make matters worse, politicians are very careful about labeling conflicts as massacres or genocide because as soon as a conflict is labeled as such, it ethically requires intervention. What happens then to a state caught between colonization and globalization that has little or no economical tie to the global economy? If the conflict receives enough attention on the world stage and there is enough bloodshed, then there is a good chance that a peacekeeping force will intervene. However, the chance of intervention in a conflict with little or no bloodshed is much slimmer and may never materialize. Case Study: Zimbabwe According to the International Crisis Group, â€Å"Zimbabwe’s economy is hemorrhaging. † (Zimbabwe: 5) Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk approximately 25 percent since 1998, inflation is more than 228% percent (Zimbabwe: CIA) and unemployment is higher than 60 percent. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has decreased from 436 million USD in 1998 to 4. 5 million USD. The FDI alone is indicative of an ever increasing gap between today’s global economy and the economy of Zimbabwe. Any economic ties that Zimbabwe has with the rest of the world are slowly wasting away with a decrease in gold production and decreased foreign aid. In fact, reducing hours and production volume is now the norm and has led to a scarcity of basic commodities within the country. To make a poor situation even worse, the government of Zimbabwe has been directing farm seizures that have led to 95 percent of large scale farmers either stopping operations or being severely disrupted. The food production has declined by 40 percent and prompted a United Nations (UN) report that warns of the potential of famine. If predictions hold true, Zimbabwe’s harvests will not be enough to feed the entire population Zimbabwe will be forced to import food. The government has gone as far as deploying army and police units to deal with riots, should they break out. (Zimbabwe) The ruling ZANU-PF party has been systematically eliminating opposition from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The ZANU-PF has been accused of distributing food to party members rather than equally which means that even children of MDC supporters have food withheld. ZANU-PF supporters, civil servants and traditional leaders are blocking MDC supporters from acquiring maize †¦ It is clear that some schemes have been discriminatory for months without the donor being aware. (Zimbabwe: 7) Thus far, the rest of the world has been passive about the happenings in Zimbabwe. In part, this can be attributed to the need to intervene if a country or countries declare a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. As noted earlier the FDI has dramatically declined resulting in essentially no economic ties between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world. More than likely, aid or intervention will not take place without a crisis that places Zimbabwe in the center of the world stage. Zimbabwe is just one former colony of many (in Africa and other parts of the world) that gained independence and left behind the imperialistic economy. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe has stepped out of one economic model and failed to step into the global economy. This is evident in the dramatically decreased FDI and production as well as the lack of intervention from other states. Focus on Former African Colonies World War II left the European powers (with the exception of Portugal) scrambling to leave Africa. As alluded to earlier, colonizing is an expensive business that takes enormous resources and ultimately is profitable for a relatively small number people. Most European colonies in Africa were never as profitable as had been hoped for couldn’t be justified like India and some other colonies. The bad name given to imperialism by Hitler helped accelerate the process in Africa as well as other parts of the world. Due to a lack of economic motivation capable of transcending national boundaries, many former colonies have descended into civil wars and other disputes between nations within the state. As demonstrated with Zimbabwe, this conflict is not necessarily militarily (although this is often the case) carried out and may be something as appalling as withholding food or other basic commodities from a portion of the population. Countless other African states such as Somali, Uganda, Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Congo have had or continue to have conflicts between nations. Many countries in Africa are lacking a solid economy that isn’t dominated by a single sector such as agriculture.

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