Imperialism and Colonization

Topics: United States, Colonialism, Africa Pages: 9 (2740 words) Published: August 12, 2010
Caught Between

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 colonization as “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 products 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, “England is a nation of shopkeepers,” (attributed to Napoleon) and goes on to describe how the British, “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...

Cited: Conklin, Alice, and Ian C. Fletcher. European Imperialism 1830-1930. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999
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Zimbabwe. 18 Dec. 2003. CIA. 5 May 2004
"Zimbabwe: What Next?" International Crisis Group (2002). 5 May 2004
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