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Imperial Power and the Post-Colony - Essay Example

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The age of imperialism saw a handful of European powers - namely Great Britain, France, Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium - armed with sophisticated and powerful navies extend their dominion across (most of) the rest of the world. International history took on a new course as the colonial era saw the imposition of European rule over territories as distinct as South Africa and erstwhile Siam (Thailand) to countries as geographically distant as Mexico and India…
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Imperial Power and the Post-Colony
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Download file to see previous pages The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature and extent of these changes within the broader context of the politics and theoretical understanding of the imperial age.
Essentially, economic interests drove the colonial relationship between the imperial power and the colony, where the flow of capital was from the latter to the former. Indeed, by 1900, the forces had capital had pervaded the global economic process so deeply that it was difficult to imagine a time when an economy was still local and driven by consumption and not profit. The Industrial Revolution in 18th century Britain has placed it at the pinnacle of global economic power; Britain used this economic prowess to fuel its military might and develop the most formidable navy in the world, utilizing it with telling effect to colonize more than half of the planet (Zakaria 2008: 167-171).
It is important to understand that the colonial hierarchy was maintained not only by force but also by the superior technology of the West, which was able to absorb and reap the benefits of the Industrial Revolution. ...
This coincidence of economic advantage and technological superiority drove forward the imperial mission and secured the ascendancy of Europe, and especially Britain, throughout the world.
As the 20th century unfolded, the demise of the age of imperialism looked more and more a certainty. While the crucial events of the first half of the century - the First and Second World Wars - changed the economic and geo-strategic imperative of colonial powers significantly, Vladimir Lenin and John Hobson penned two telling critiques of the imperial movement to stir sentiments against the economic and political exploitation of the colonies.
Lenin, the celebrated leader of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia, claimed that the spread of imperialism would bring about the eventual decline of the capitalist world (1916). He argued that the forces of capitalism had created monopolies in the production, leading to grave consequences for economic life. The gradual shift of focus from global production to global finance, and the trade in capital - as opposed to commodities - had ushered in a system characterized by chronic imbalance and exploitation of the working classes. As a result, a few industrially advanced nations and "capitalist associations" dominated the world economy:
"The development of capitalism has arrived at a stage when, although commodity production still 'reigns' and continues to be regarded as the basis of economic life, it has in reality been undermined and the bulk of the profits go to the 'geniuses' of financial manipulation. At the basis of these manipulations and swindles lies socialized production; but the immense progress of mankind, which achieved ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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