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An 1805 cartoon depicting French and English colonialism of the globe.

Colonialism is a politico-economic relationship characterised by the subjugation and exploitation of one territory or group of people (at their expense) by a different territory or group of people (to their benefit). Marxism views colonialism in the modern era as a tool of capitalism, enforcing the interests of the ruling class abroad and destroying cultures and nations all around the world. Marx thought that working within the global capitalist system, colonialism is closely associated with uneven development. It is an "instrument of wholesale destruction, dependency and systematic exploitation producing distorted economies, socio-psychological disorientation, massive poverty and neocolonial dependency".[1]

Colonies are typically forced into specific modes of production by their colonial rulers. The search for raw materials and the current search for new investment opportunities is a result of inter-capitalist rivalry for capital accumulation. Lenin regarded colonialism as the root cause of imperialism, as imperialism was distinguished by monopoly capitalism at a global scale.

European colonialism[edit | edit source]

Many modern imperialist countries began as colonial powers.

Between 1860 and 1899, the British colonial empire grew from 2.5 to 9.3 million square miles and 126.4 million to 309 million inhabitants. During the same time, the French colonial population grew from 3.4 to 56.4 million, and Germany formed a colonial empire that subjugated 14.7 million.

Between 1876 and 1900, the percentage of land under U.S. or European colonial rule rose from 10.8% to 90.4% in Africa, 56.8% to 98.9% in Polynesia, and 51.5% to 56.6% in Asia. In addition to the previously mentioned countries, Belgium and Portugal had colonial empires with 30 million and nine million inhabitants, respectively.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Watts, Michael (2005). "colonialism, history of". In Forsyth, Tim (ed.). Encyclopedia of International Development. Routledge. ISBN 9781136952913.
  2. Vladimir Lenin (1916). Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: 'Division of the World among the Great Powers'. Moscow: Progress Publishers. [MIA]