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Imperialism is a state policy, practice or advocacy for the extension of power and domination, especially through the direct acquisition of territories (by colonialism in particular) or by obtaining political and economic control of other regions. It always involves the use of power, whether military, economic or in a more subtle form. [1] Stephanie Jeremie, La Forge

Types of Imperialism

Colonial imperialism [2]

  • Colonialism is attributed to imperial powers. Imperial powers use the dispossession mechanism of colonialism to enrich themselves.
  • Colonial invasion is therefore part of imperial expansion and both are part of the same global domination.

Informal imperialism [3]

  • Characterized by the power of influence of one entity over another.
Economic imperialism

Concerns the use of one's advantageous economic situation in order to install a relationship of domination.

It translates to:

  • Economic sanctions, for example an embargo.
  • Aid (or a loan) conditional on the implementation of measures favourable to the dominant, unfavourable to the inferior.

 Roger van Zwanenberg explains the components of modern imperialism [4]  :

  1. Capitalist accumulation or globalization
  2. The dominance of finance
  3. trade and investment
  4. technology and science
  5. military power
  6. The ideological control

Examples of Imperialism

The British Empire

  • The British conquered India for their wealth. India was one of the wealthiest countries in the world; Britain drained almost $45 trillion from India between 1765-1938. India's GDP fell from 25% globally to 4% once the British left. [5]
  • Large parts of Africa were conquered by the British, exploited of their resources and inhabitants were stolen and forced into slavery, again for the purposes of profit.

The United States

The United States continues to be a massive imperialist power. As just a few examples:

  • In the Philippines, air raids were followed by more raids, then by invasion and conquest. Sixteen million Filipinos fell under a foreign power. The US ruled over the Philippines until 1946. [6]
  • In the late 1880's, the United States military overthrew Hawaii's monarchy, and today it remains under US powers. [7]
  • The US invaded and conquered Puerto Rico in the early 1900's. It remains under their rule. [8]

For examples of the consequences of imperialism, see our definitions page for anti-imperialism.

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