What is colonialism? Discuss the different stages of colonialism


Colonialism, like industrial capitalism, is a relatively recent historical event. It refers to a separate period in the colony’s contemporary historical development that occurs between the traditional and modern capitalist economies. It is a well-organized whole, a unique social entity in which a foreign capitalist class has fundamental power over the economy and society. The shape of the colonial structure changes throughout time as the historical evolution of capitalism as a global system changes. Colonialism should be viewed as a distinct framework. Some academics contend that colonialism meant more than just the imposition of foreign political dominance over a native economy. It wasn’t only the result of a massive confidence game based on the colonized’s docility, collaboration, or disunity, bolstered by the racial arrogance of their better-armed white overlords. ‘Empires were multinational institutions formed to deploy the world’s resources’ (Hopkins, 1999) is likewise inadequate; it concentrates on the metropolis rather than the colonies. A colony was also not a transitional economy that would have turned into a full-fledged capitalist economy over time. It is likewise erroneous to say that the colony’s pre-capitalist vestiges caused “arrested expansion.” Many apologists, such as Morris D. Morris, characterised colonialism as an attempt at modernization, economic progress, and capitalist transplanting that failed due to the stifling influence of traditions in the colonies.

The colonial economy would be neither pre-capitalist nor capitalist; rather, it was colonial, i.e., a hybrid. Colonialism was a form of skewed capitalism. Capitalism did not come to the colony as a result of its integration into the global economy. The colony did not grow in the divided image of the home nation; rather, it developed on the opposite, non-developmental aspect of the mother country. Colonialism did not build social and productive capabilities; rather, it weakened them, resulting in conflicts and the progression to the next stage.

Colonialism was divided into three phases.

First Stage: Plunder and Monopoly Trade

The initial stage has two primary goals. To make commerce more lucrative, locally created items were to be purchased at a low cost. Local and European rivals were to be kept out of this. While competing European corporations were vanquished in battle, territorial conquest kept local businessmen out of the profitable trade. As a result, the first stage was characterised by commercial monopoly.

Second, the colony’s political conquest allowed for pillage and surplus confiscation. In the first stage, for instance, a large amount of money was transferred from India to Britain. It was about 2% to 3% of Britain’s national income at the time. The conventional economic and political structures were established by colonialism. In the first stage, no fundamental modifications were implemented.

Second Stage: The Free Trade Era

The colony’s abundant markets for produced goods piqued the interest of the city’ industrial elites. In order to finance the purchase of manufactured products, the colony’s exporting had to be increased. To reduce reliance on non-empire sources, the metropolitan bourgeoisie also desired to promote the colony as a raw – materials provider. Increased exports would also empower the colony to pay for traders’ high wages and profits. Plunder as a form of excess appropriation was rejected by the industrial elite on the grounds that it would ruin the goose that lay the golden eggs. In this time, trade was the instrument for appropriating the social surplus. Changes in the economics, politics, administration, social, cultural, and ideological structures were undertaken at this point to allow for new forms of exploitation. Expansion and modernisation were the rallying cries. The home nation and the world capitalist economy were to be absorbed into the colony. Plantations, trade, transportation, mining, and industries were all permitted to be developed by capitalists. The communication and transport infrastructure was created to make it easier to carry large amounts of raw materials to port for exporting. The new political doctrine was liberal imperialism. The rulers’ propaganda was to teach the people how to govern themselves.

Third stage: The Financing Capital Era

In the third stage, there was a fierce competition for markets and raw resources and food grains. The large-scale buildup of money in the city prompted the hunt for foreign investment opportunities. Where the imperial powers possessed colonies, these interests were best fulfilled. As a result, the colony was subjected to more intense control in order to defend the imperial power’s interests. The tone in the ideological domain was one of response. The demand for tighter control grew. There was no longer any idea of self-government; instead, benign despotism became the new doctrine, in which the colonial people were viewed as children who would always require guardianship. Because of rapid depletion in the prior phases, the colony was unable to absorb metropolitan capital or boost its raw – materials exports, which was a fundamental contradiction in this stage. To address this issue, a modest modernization approach was adopted, but colonialism’s ideology could not be overturned. The colony’s continued exploitation was hampered by economic decline. The third stage did not always take off. Some colonies’ economies had been so badly damaged by colonialism that they could barely absorb any capital input. Older kinds of abuse persisted in many colonies. In India, for instance, even in the third phase, the prior two kinds persisted.

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