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Neocolonialism, alternatively spelled neo-colonialism and also known as colonialism without colonies, informal empire or neoimperialism (itself alternatively spelled neo-imperialism) is the control of another country through economic means. This typically involves giving loans and such to a country in need, in exchange for things such as cuts to social services as well as forcing them to open their markets. Then, the debt from the loan is leveraged to maintain control over the country, forcing it to bend to the will of an imperialist power.

This is mostly how modern imperialism is done; institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are prominent examples of this method. Although countries have been recolonized in the past (as in the case of Egypt in 1922), this became unfeasible after the post-war anti-colonial upsurge. Imperialism needed to conceal itself further and needed the façade of self-government to be maintained. Unlike territorial imperialism, neoimperialism does not directly colonize countries, instead trapping them in a relation that makes them economically dependent on the neoimperialist state.[1] [2]

Simply put, a bourgeois state grants the trappings of sovereignty to a weaker country while finance capital retains control over most of its profitable resources. Under neoimperialism, a neocolony will have pretensions to independence, such as an otherwise native government administering and paying for the affairs at home, but in practice the supreme authority with regards to policies, wealth, and other resources is the neoimperialist state.[3] The neoimperialists do not rely on violence for either imposing a colonial government or excluding other imperial powers, but merely to secure the conditions for domination. Money is the neoimperialists’ first resort for dominating others, and failing that they rely on violence,[2] usually channeled through native rebels, but sometimes they still channel it through direct invasion as well, only with the goal of installing an allied capitalist régime rather than just annexation.

In the 1963 document "Apologists Of Neo-Colonialism" by the Editorial Departments of People's Daily and Red Flag, the authors explain the post-WWII international situation and the mechanisms of neocolonialism and stress that it is even more "pernicious and sinister" than the older form of colonial rule:

The facts are clear. After World War II the imperialists have certainly not given up colonialism, but have merely adopted a new form, neo-colonialism. An important characteristic of such neo-colonialism is that the imperialists have been forced to change their old style of direct colonial rule in some areas and to adopt a new style of colonial rule and exploitation by relying on the agents they have selected and trained. The imperialists headed by the United States enslave or control the colonial countries and countries which have already declared their independence by organizing military blocs, setting up military bases, establishing “federations” or “communities”, and fostering puppet regimes. By means of economic “aid” or other forms, they retain these countries as markets for their goods, sources of raw material and outlets for their export of capital, plunder the riches and suck the blood of the people of these countries. Moreover, they use the United Nations as an important tool for interfering in the internal affairs of such countries and for subjecting them to military, economic and cultural aggression. When they are unable to continue their rule over these countries by “peaceful” means, they engineer military coups d’etat, carry out subversion or even resort to direct armed intervention and aggression.[4]

The authors of the piece point out that the United States in particular is a notable promoter of neo-colonialism, with U.S. imperialists "trying hard to grab the colonies and spheres of influence of other imperialists and to establish world domination." The authors also state that the peoples of Asia and Africa are "seriously menaced by the tentacles of neo-colonialism, represented by U. S. imperialism" and they quote the Second Havana Declaration as saying that "Latin America today is under a more ferocious imperialism, more powerful and ruthless than the Spanish colonial empire."

History[edit | edit source]

The term neocolonialism has been in use since the 1950s, but the practice itself dates to the early 1900s, when the Cubans won their independence from Spain in the late 1890s only to transfer into the dominion of Imperial America for the next decade.[2] While technically the Cubans now had their own government, constitution, currency, security force, and national symbols, the White House reserved the final say on foreign policy decisions as well as Cuban resources.[1]

The American bourgeoisie further developed the practice of neoimperialism in 1913, promoting national independence from the Great Powers for colonies such as the Philippines, and the white bourgeoisie fully developed the practice by the Cold War,[2] in which the British, French, and Japanese bourgeoisies likewise adopted neoimperialism as a less costly and more politically expedient alternative to outright colonial rule.[3] [2]

Not all attempts at neocolonialism have been successful. For example, during the late 1940s the White House began a project called Operation Bloodstone, a plan designed to recruit disgruntled Easterners (ranging from social democrats to Fascists) and prepare them for forcibly reclaiming regions in the USSR[5] while concealing and denying any Western culpability.[6] But internal difficulties such as factional infighting,[7] as well as the overwhelming strength of Soviet forces, made the operation a long‐term failure. Sometimes bourgeois states do succeed in establishing a neocolony for a while, but due to the lack of de facto independence the neocolony still carries the risk of natives replacing it, sometimes with the assistance of a new national leader who is or becomes patriotic or reformist rather than a comprador collaborator.[8] One example of this is Manuel Antonio Noriega, who started his rulership in Panama as a CIA asset but gradually became less and less compliant with the neoimperialists over time, resulting in Imperial America directly invading Panama in 1989 and leaving it with a more compliant neocolonial régime in 1990.[9]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Michael Parenti (1995). Against Empire: '1' (p. 15). City Light Books.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Marxists Internet Archive Encyclopedia.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Michael Parenti (1995). Against Empire: '1' (p. 16). City Light Books.
  4. “Apologists of Neo-Colonialism.” Editorial Departments of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) and Hongqi (Red Flag), Foreign Languages Press, Peking 1963. Archived 2022-04-17.
  5. Christopher Simpson (2014). Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy: 'eight' (p. 79). Open Road Media.
  6. Christopher Simpson (2014). Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy: 'eight' (p. 78). Open Road Media.
  7. Christopher Simpson (2014). Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy: 'eight' (p. 102). Open Road Media.
  8. Michael Parenti (1995). Against Empire: '1' (p. 17). City Light Books.
  9. The Panama Deception (1992).