How is colonialism relevant today?
Colonialism is a form of domination – the control by governments over the territory and/or behaviour of other countries. ‘Colonialism is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it, economically.’ (Nkrumah, 1965). Colonialism derives from capitalist ideology. This refers to the economic system in which means of production are privately owned as oppose to being owned by the government. This ensures that the rich proceed gaining wealth and the less fortunate remain poor. An example of this is the colonisation of India. ‘The partition led to one of the largest migrations in history, as many moved from India to Pakistan and vice-versa. It displaced 15 million people, and killed more than one million. The legacies of colonialism can still be felt today, as Pakistan and India remain at loggerheads, despite a shared history which was shattered by British divide and rule policies.’ (Singh, 2015. Think India should be grateful for colonialism? The Independent). In India 35% to 50% of village lands were revenue free and that revenue was utilized for running schools, conducting temple festivals, producing medicines, feeding pilgrims, improving irrigation etc. The British in their greed brought down the revenue free lands down to 5%. When there was a protest, they assured Indians that the government would create an irrigation department to take care of irrigation, an educational board to take care of education etc. The initiative of the people was destroyed. (Nivedita, 1998.)
The current tension between India and Pakistan is a result of Britain’s colonisation of India. The motivation for colonialism is down to interests of the country in other words exploitation of their resources. A primary example of this is the colonisation of Iraq. Before Iraq was colonised, they obtained their money from their oil resources. The American and British invaded Iraq in order to gain money from the oil. Most of all the resources (oil trade and politics) were controlled by the British. The motivation of colonialism is evidently driven by economic benefit. ‘The debates on the precise connections between the genesis of capitalism and colonialism were vigorous and are especially relevant today when capitalism is often understood to have become a permanent condition rather than a system with a beginning and possibly an end.’ (Loomba, 2015). Colonists are only seen to benefit from colonialism whereas the colonized are left exploited.
Colonialism in present day is experienced in Africa. ‘There is a case in Africa wherein hectares of land are used by state industries for its own use. The land was ruined and could not be used for agriculture by the country. ‘The people of Africa are the workers in the land when they should instead own the land.’ (Nkrumah, 1965). This furthermore proves that colonialism still exists today. The economic goals of colonialism were simple: to provide maximum economic benefit to the colonizing power at the lowest possible price. Most of the countries which experience this modern day colonialism are third world countries. Its relevance however can be argued as; colonists are only seen to benefit from colonialism whereas the colonized are left exploited. The colonised countries are left vulnerable to different neo-colonial acts including, the presence of multinational cooperation’s, structural adjustment programs and loan organizations. Such things affect its economy and further pull the country down. It is evident that there is an unequal relationship between colonial power and the colony. The colonists gain more power through controlling small countries, they gain more income through the resources of the colonized country and are turned to when in need of political support from the colonized country.
Nonetheless some may argue that colonialism is relevant to economic conditions today, because the economic conditions in the first place would not have existed the same as they are today without colonialism. Both the good conditions of Europe, and the bad/developing conditions of places like India, would not exist. This depicts its relevance today economically. Referring to present day, the media is an apparatus used for colonialism. In present day, the media is an important function regarding delivering information and informing the general population. ‘The media could also be considered as a potential tool for control; dominant western cultures try to control developing cultures and support the interests of the dominant class.’ (Jones, 2011).
An example of modern day colonialism is the situation in America. ‘Donald Trump’s invective against Pakistan not only depicts the utter lack of direction in America’s new ‘strategy’, but also highlights how colonialism continues to exist in various forms today.’ ‘America’s rise as a superpower in fact shows that colonialism is very much present today.’ ‘Trump’s appeal to civilisation and to order is, therefore, clearly emblematic of colonial rhetoric the West has used to impose itself on the rest of the world. Moreover, America’s presence in Afghanistan is colonialism in two different forms — one direct by having a military presence in Afghanistan, and second by imposing its policies on Pakistan and this appeal to civilisation.’ (Shah 2017). The idea of colonialism as discussed before is to take resources from one country to use for the benefit of the colonizing country. The colonists become wealthy and powerful whilst the colonized remained subjugated. This is a similar concept with modern day colonialism.
Lack of development funds and advanced farming machinery can be seen in lack of progress of development in Africa. Most of African countries do not have adequate funds to initiate viable economic development projects. In addition, these countries do not have farm machinery that can produce with efficiency. ‘About 80% of African population works in agriculture yet this does not produce enough food because people lack effective farming tools .They use simple farm equipment namely hand tools which are ineffective to produce good amount of food. However, new and better farming method, ox-plough was recently introduced. Still this is just better; not the best, but it is a magic invention to some African societies. In few societies where ox-ploughs and animals are used for labour, produce more than societies that hand tools and are seen to have somehow advanced technologically.'(Kende-Robb, 2014)
‘Western nations used to be open about wanting to exploit the world for their own gain. In recent years though this old form of colonialism has been covered up with ideas of “humanitarian interventionism.” Now, with the Trump administration in office, we are back to a much more blatant colonialism as Trump expresses desire to take Afghanistan’s minerals and Iraq’s oil- instead of just wanting to “help” the countries as previous administrations have claimed. Additionally, with exploitation of other people and the land they live on comes environmental pollution, an important intersection to realize. Not only are we killing people with immediate attacks, we’re killing people slowly with pollution. Also, nuclear weapons stockpiling and drone warfare are issues for another article, but I wanted to set the stage for future anti-war articles today.’ (Windholz, 2017). The use of weapons reinforce Americas power over countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan; exploiting their resources for their own benefit. The exploitation of the country’s oil resources, are justified as an act of ‘helping’ the colonized country.
Colonialism in Palestine
How has colonialism influenced the economy?
The immense economic inequality we observe in the world today is the path-dependent outcome of a multitude of historical processes, one of the most important of which has been European colonialism.
‘In our research with Simon Johnson we have shown that colonialism has shaped modern inequality in several fundamental, but heterogeneous, ways. In Europe the discovery of the Americas and the emergence of a mass colonial project, first in the Americas, and then, subsequently, in Asia and Africa, potentially helped to spur institutional and economic development, thus setting in motion some of the prerequisites for what was to become the industrial revolution’ (Acemoglu et al. 2005).
Furthermore, when discussing the economic impact of colonialism the current political instability, social disorder and economic crisis in Africa have their roots in the colonialization era. ‘During colonization period, political, economic, and social structure of African societies were completely changed. European powers viewed Africans as “primitive people” so they assigned themselves a duty to civilize or teach them, the Africans the “proper civilization” of which they meant colonization, imposition of European civilization and exploitation of Africans. In this regard, European colonials divided Africa continent into colonies among themselves. They used persuasion and bribery of traditional leaders at best and force at worse to acquire these divisions and other programs of interests to them. Governments of colonies were formed either under a direct or indirect rule of countries colonizing the colonies. Under a direct rule, all levels of governments were controlled by the colonial masters, while where an indirect rule was applied, only governors and council advisors were appointed from colonials countries, and traditional leaders loyal to governors were allowed to retain their leadership or appointed in case of some leaders who resisted the colonization.'(Robinson, 2017. The economic impact of colonialism).
The aim of governments of colonies were to enforce and oversee the implementation of exploitation of resources and imposition of European civilization in Africa. The fertile lands occupied by the local populations were taken and used for ‘food crops cultivations and the lands were then distributed to European settlers, and turned into plantations of new introduced cash crops such as cotton, coca, tea, vanilla and soon for exportation to Europe. Taxes were imposed on colonies to be paid in cash, which was difficult for traditional farmers to get.’ (Deng, 2007). The traditional African beliefs, norms and practices transmitted in society were despised. They were forced to take on the beliefs, norms and practices of the Europeans and ignore their beliefs.
The economic crisis present in Africa today stems from the effects of colonisation along with lack of capital, advanced farming machinery, climatic conditions and rapid growth in population. The impact of colonialism is still evident in many African countries today as, many African countries since they became independent from their ‘colonial masters’, have never been in peace and stability.
‘Few African countries such as Kenya where political stability prevailed for two decades has become self-sufficient in food productions, became one of the world exporter of tea and coffee, and attained agricultural growth of 3 percent average yearly. Another effect of colonization in addition to instability is that African economies of colonization era were geared to fit for exportations. Large pieces of fertile lands were used for cash crops leaving less fertile and small portion of lands for food crops.’ (Deng, 2007).This makes it difficult to produce enough food for consumption within the exporting countries of cash crops. It also has an impact on economies at the time when cash crop prices drop in the international market due to competition.
Colonialism had an impact socially, politically and economically on the African continent, in both positive and negative ways. The positive social and political impacts include the institution of education. Education was introduced in Africa by establishing mission schools to educate the local people and helped them to learn more about their land and culture. The Europeans advanced technology in Africa; they were provided with tools for farming and introduced new crops like maize and manioc from the New World. ‘They built more infrastructures like medical facilities, transport and communication network, schools and established plantations for the growing of cash crops like cocoa, coffee, tea, rubber and cotton. The communication in Africa progressed as they learnt the languages of their colonial controllers like, English, French and Portuguese, which has given them the ability to communicate in the present globalised world without and difficulties.’ (Iweriebor, 2011).An increase in jobs in Africa is another positive impact such as trade. Additionally stronger and better institutions were established to govern the people, which exist in most of the countries today. REKHA REDDY
The African culture was deteriorated and their traditions and ways of life were destroyed, due to the introduction of Christianity, they forced the people to adapt and learn their language, taught the traditional mannerism and eating etiquettes. They forced the European dress code on the Africans, which they forcibly accepted.
‘Families were torn apart due to partition of Africa, which created new boundaries leading to present conflicts. The Europeans took away most of their resources especially gold, diamonds, ivory and agricultural primary products. This never gave the Africans the opportunity to learn how to use their own resources for development.'(Reddy, 2011). Lastly, the Africans occupied only the inferior positions of the colonial administration and never had a say in the government of their own countries. Those employed by the colonial administration felt proud and more superior to the others and it eventually led to social inequality in the colonies. Therefore, colonialism, produced inequalities and conflicts between societies, in other words disrupting the equilibrium and cohesion in society.
How does the industrial revolution have an influence on colonialism in Africa?
The Industrial Revolution had an impact on colonialism because of the progress made during this time. ‘With new advancements in technology, medicine, and transportation, Britain and other developed countries were able to colonize other places in the world. European nations colonized around the world for many different reasons: plentiful resources, promises of land, and economic interest; as well as an obligation to share their medicine, law, technology, and religion.’ (Vera.et al 2014). Colonialism during the industrial revolution has provided us with advances in medicine and technology, which we use today. Colonialism allows the spread of knowledge and medicine. An example of this is the crusade war, which assisted the collapse of the Roman Empire i.e. a loss in knowledge. The west obtained medical knowledge from the Middle East to compensate for their loss of knowledge. In this case, colonialism is used to gain and spread knowledge. However the colonial acts cause the Middle East to suffer as, they declared war and inflicted masses of destruction on the Middle East.
By the late 19th century, industrialism had widened the technological gap between Africa and the west. Due to advances in military technology, such as the development of the rapid fire machine gun, the repeating rifle, and lighter-weight artillery.
Europeans control a territory with fewer troops making African conquest more affordable. Industrialism also led to medical advancements including the development of vaccines and medicines that allowed Europeans to survive more easily in tropical climates and protect themselves against tropical diseases. ‘In 1857 industrial developments such as the telegraph and railroads helped the British withstand a rebellion in India thus encouraging England and other industrialized nations to believe they could successfully both conquer and control rather than simply trade with African nations.’ (eNotes, 14 Feb. 2016)
The industrial revolution created a demand for new, secure markets for manufactured goods. ‘Colonization created captive markets in places like Africa, and this helped to fuel the competition for colonies. Many Europeans feared that a lack of new markets would result in overproduction’ (“How did the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century lead to the scramble for Africa? “eNotes, 14 Feb. 2016). This, in turn, would lead to economic depression and so gave urgency to the colonization project.
This map shows Africa in 1912 when most parts of the continent were under colonial rule.