Imperialism: the Double-Edged Sword of Man

Imperialism, the strategy of a nation expanding power above another, has wrecked civilization since historical times. It has caused loss of lives on a large scale due to hostilities, famine as well as poverty as an upshot of the strategy of imperialism. Imperialism is principally aggravated by the yearning of states to obtain affluence; it is capitalist motivated and it leads to a larger chunk of the world’s affluence being owned by a smaller part of its population. Some critics say it is primarily out of greed that imperialism is propagated. Imperialism is centered on the notion that the conquered territories are inferior to the conquerors, with vices such as racism, prejudice and exploitation inherently featuring in imperialism, which serve to prove the justification of one state controlling others (Éirígí 56).

In America for instance, imperialism dates back to the American Revolution and has been carried forward in the relations of the US with other nations. About 500 years ago, the first experience of American imperialism was when Columbus came to America. The original inhabitants were displaced to create room for the immigrants, turning the natives into slaves. The urge to control the rest of the world has rendered America the greatest imperialist, with its imperialistic activities stretching throughout time. The US economy has been growing so fast they could not consume all the goods they produced, hence the need to conquer more territories to get market for their surplus.

The world, as it currently is, has largely been shaped by imperialism, and the consequences of the trait are inevitable, and have led to subjective division of people and displacement from their original land (Veltmeyer & Petras 45). This is how present-day borders came to be, which were established with the best interest of the imperialists, as opposed to local inhabitants, at heart. This has been the cause of the most resentful clashes in the world. Imperialism has also led to inequality and inequity in wealth allotment. It is responsible for the division of the world into developed’ and developing nations, which acceptably divides the world according to material possessions of countries. Those countries which are termed as poor are the same ones which were subjected to imperialism in the past. The rich states exploited the resources of the poor for their own benefit, leaving them richer and the poor poorer (Éirígí 50).

Imperialism, though deep rooted in the past, is not necessarily a historical occurrence. It exists even in the 21st century, gaining new forms but with the same undesirable effects as it has always had. It takes new forms in that it need not involve physical occupation f foreign territories, but rather takes a more subtle form but bearing the same results of the rich benefiting from what belongs to the poor. Modern imperialism takes the form of political, cultural and economic exploitation as opposed to the past when it took a military form, given the technological advancement in communication and globalization of the economy. Modern imperialism is achieved by collusion between the imperialists and supporters in a state who are agreeable to aid exploitation in their countries. This leads to habitual encroachment of the autonomy of the poor nations by the rich powerful nations. This further leads to impediment of democracy as the powerful state influences the politics of the conquered state to ensure that the allies attain or maintains power in their countries as a favour in exchange for their assistance. The consequence of this is perpetration of tyrannical and cruel regimes as the imperialists are not concerned about the internal affairs of the poor countries since their motives are purely capitalistic. This is a clear indication that imperialism is still condoned even in the 21st century, and the alien imperialists take advantage of this condonation to continually conquer and exploit the poor countries.

International organizations have also aided imperialism. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for instance, have portrayed coercion of the poor states into approving economic and social strategies that have the interest of the rich nations. These international organizations are dominated by rich capitalist countries, which have taken imperialism to a new level, by ensuring the poor countries remain dependent economically and politically by threatening to withdraw donor support if the poor countries do not abide by the rules set by the rich states. This makes it clear that imperialism is still practiced, and that aliens take advantage of contemporary forms of imperialism to conquer foreign territories (Éirígí 56).

In the 19th century, imperialists were European countries who colonized Africa. But even with the attainment of independence, imperialism was not over. Today, the United States of America and its allies are seen as the imperial power. Present-day imperialism is aimed at ensuring that former imperialists preserve economic dominance that they acquired over the poor countries during the 19th-20th century colonization. This is done by paying poor prices for products bought from the poor countries and bringing low quality cheap products to the poor countries to compete with the local products so as to keep the poor countries dependent on them for continued exploitation.

The 20th century was referred to as the ‘American century.’ Finance capital dominated capitalist production and capital accumulation. Following the First World War, US imperialism increased ascendancy over that of the European adversaries. During the 1920s, the US was the capitalist world’s leading financier and a leading industrial power. After this period, it was almost impossible to counter the US imperialistic power as it is cartels, which enjoyed monopoly, and financial superiority coupled with the US’s command of the technology further upheld the US dominance. The US enjoyed the best division of labor, technical breakthrough and financial supremacy, which gave the country an upper hand in the control of international affairs (Chandra et al 89).

The rich countries also use debts to carry on with imperialism of the poor countries. For instance, the odious debt-unjust debt that is incurred as wealthy nations loaned tyrants and other corrupt leaders when it was known that the money would be wasted (DB). These loans ensure that the poor nations remained under the domination of rich states, as well as exploiting the poor states by demanding exorbitant interest rates, and in the long run perpetuating the dependency of the poor nations for the benefit of the rich nations. For instance, after World War II, the US loaned the UK at a small interest rate, and the two terminated nearly all of Germany’s debt. This was aimed at aiding the rich nations restore after the war. But with third world countries, the rate of paying back debts is up to five-fold.

Another form of propagating imperialism is by supporting foreign companies from imperialist nations to be in command of the economies of the poor countries in the guise of economic liberalization. The effect of this is that the local companies are outdone as infant industries cannot flourish in the presence of already established alien companies with a wide capital base as the alien companies are able to utilize their economies of scale to provide products and services at a lower price than that of the local companies, which are just starting. In propagating this objective, the IMF is the use as a means (Petraz & Veltmeyer 34).

A classic example of IMF being used as a tool of imperialism is the case of Jamaica in the 1970s. After the collapse of the Jamaican economy, the prime minister at the time, Michael Manley, under duress from the IMF and the conservative People’s National Party, introduced a scheme, which claimed to contain many aspects of democratic socialism. It advocated for disentanglement from international capitalism, socializing the means of production and exchange, augmenting Jamaica’s self-sufficiency and expansion of alien economic interactions. The Conservative People’s National Party did not approve of democratic socialism’ and therefore approached the IMF for assistance (Petraz & Veltmeyer 34). This led to problems for Jamaica as it was lent money on 1977 but on condition that it had to consent to pension and wage decrements as well as elimination of price controls. In 1980, the results of this manipulation were evident as the Jamaican economy had deteriorated in duration of three years, leading to mass unemployment of about 30% of the workforce and the foreign exchange deficit had appreciably gone up within the same duration. Further, the freeze on pensions and wages worked to the advantage of alien establishments, which proliferated the country in its state of vulnerability as the problem of minimum wage or labour laws, was not a problem to deal with anymore (Neo colonialism, Imperialism and Resistance in the 21st Century).

In the Ireland debt crisis, there was evidence of imperialism as the IMF was being used by the European Central Bank to guard the interest of the economically privileged. Some countries, which have been subjected to imperialism, have ended up benefiting from it. For eight centuries, Ireland was the focus of British imperialism, characterized by subjugation, famine, paucity and forced emigration. During this time, Britain caused divisions among the people of Ireland based on class, religion, gender or ethnic divisions in order to disunite the natives and take advantage of the discrepancy to maintain British dominance in Ireland so as for wealth and power to be concentrated in the few at the expense of the majority. Yet, by virtue of being a European country, it is now a part of the rich world, as opposed to African countries which share a common history but have not been liberated from imperialism but in which imperialism keeps changing forms. As such, though victims of imperialism, they are beneficiaries of the vice as well (Éirígí 80).

From the above, it is clear that imperialism is a trait which has been there and continues to be condoned. Whereas it is responsible for civilization, the negative effects cannot be overlooked. Even after the attainment of independence by previous colonies, imperialism continues to be practiced by former colonizers. They put their economic interest first and disregard those of the indigenous inhabitants of the poor countries. This is in order to further their exploitation of resources and to continually secure market control over weaker countries. Imperialism has evolved with time from war, colonization and military intervention in the past to modern forms of imperialism, most notably in the form of forming allies with members of the poor countries, establishing alien corporations in the poor states and use of international organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF which are controlled by the powerful nations. As a result, the alien imperialist nations continue to dominate the economies of the poor states by intimidation of infant local corporate, granting loans with exorbitant interest rates and control of market forces as well as interference with politics and democracy, bringing forth undesirable effects.

The divide and rule’ policy used by imperialists and only have the capitalist interests of the imperialists. As such, nations must unite is the trait of imperialism is to be conquered as disunity is one of the most significant aiders of imperialism. Loyalty is also a problem in the poor state, as the few allies of the imperialists will not stop at anything to sell the interests of their countries in exchange for favors from imperialist. These favors further compromise the interests of weak nations as when they are offered in the form of political positions, the result is continuance of bad governance, riddled with corruption, bureaucracy and impunity, vices in which imperialism flourishes. As a result, the imperialist aliens continue gaining at the expense of the poor nations, and the vicious cycle goes on and on. As in the case of Ireland, it is possible for developing countries to take charge of their affairs. The Ireland experience, though aided by the fact that Ireland a European country, was no different with those of the other poor states, but Ireland rose beyond imperialism to claim its place in the developed states. This makes it clear that with loyalty and determination to defeat the trait of imperialism, it is not an impossible mission. This should be an example to other nations that continue to languish in imperialism to stand up in unity and loyalty and claim their rightful place in the global economy instead of going on with the vicious cycle of debts and other hurdles designed to propagate imperialism.

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