IMPERIALISM AND UNDERDEVELOPMENT IN THE THIRD WORLD 0.

1 Introduction Indeed, imperialism has been one of the most dominant forces in world politics over the last four centuries, carving up whole countries while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Imperialism is not just about armies, labor and gold. Imperialism has a cultural dimension. When one part of the world systematically oppresses another, it changes not only the material make-up of those societies, it also affects the cultures. According to Rodney (1972): “Africa in the fifteenth century was not just a jumble of different ‘tribes.’ There was a pattern and there was historical movement. Societies such as feudal Ethiopia and Egypt were at the furthest point of the process of evolutionary development. Zimbabwe and the Bachwezi states were also clearly on the ascent away from communalism, but at a lower level than the feudal states and a few others that were not yet feudal such as those in Western Sudan.”

This above insight by Rodney shows that Africa had a particular pattern of development before interference from without the continent. As it was and still is with Africa so has it been with the rest of the third world countries in Asia and Latin America.

This is why we can say that the political and economic life of the so-called Third – World countries cannot be discussed or given a cursory glance without taking consideration of the influence of the developed or industrialized nations of the west and North America. This view came as an antithesis to the Modernization paradigm of political economy, which stated that the third world’s economic and political life can be studied as a closed system meaning; underdevelopment in the third world is an original situation.

which was consequently a manifestation of imperialism. The growth of capitalism and its spread around Europe further brought about the saturation of the European markets. because truly the politics of the thirdworld countries of Asia . starting from Britain in 1760(Collins concise encyclopedia) . and later spreading to other parts of Europe in the 18th century. the above thesis remains what the neo-Marxist scholars of the school of imperialism have come to contradict. Asia and Latin America became seen as veritable markets for for these goods. Today. technology.Africa. which is an offshoot of the growth of advanced capitalism. and Latin America . Capitalism as an economic ideology was influenced greatly by the Industrial Revolution in the west. Thus was born the idea of colonialism. investments and loans. This is why Lenin in his book considered imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism. This paper is aimed at elucidating the concept and phenomenon of imperialism vis-à-vis the underdevelopment situation in the third world today. So the continents of Africa.cannot be studied outside the imperialist incursion of the third world . the industrialized nations are not only exporting goods but also capital in the form of machinery. even after the decolonization of the countries of the so-called third world. they took it by force. Where these imperialists were not allowed to peacefully assume power. So in essence there was need for markets elsewhere for these goods. . The colonization of the third world countries by imperialist Europe halted and distorted the development patterns that were being followed by the now called third world countries.However . whereby territories were turned into colonies of the principal authority for the main purpose of plunder.

Modernization scholars like W. Barratt cited in Ake (1981:20) also sees the concept as “the outward drive of certain peoples to build empires –both formal colonies and privileged positions in markets. Andre Gunder Frank. arising from the necessity of counteracting the impediments of the accumulation of capital engendered by the internal contradictions of the domestic capitalist economy. Almost 150 years ago. From this definition.Rostow in his book” the stages of economic growth “have expressly disputed the existence of the concept of imperialism. Given the expansionist nature of capitalism it has little inclination to stay at home. Marx and Engels described a Bourgeoisie that chase over the world surface for the globe for capital accumulation and surplus value. This definition shows that imperialism is a highly parasitic relationship between territories.2 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATIONS In the course of this academic exploration it would be pertinent to explicate the concepts of imperialism. scholars like. On the other hand the Neo-Marxist scholars mostly from the third world. it is implied that imperialism is as a result of the growth of advanced capitalism. Walter Rodney and Ake Claude have come to defend the existence of the phenomenon. Imperialism: imperialism has been a concept and phenomenon fraught with so many contradictions as regards its existence or authenticity.W. protected sources of materials and extended opportunities for profitable . These acts are usually done with impunity.0. Development and Underdevelopment for the sake of clarity and putting them in the right context for the sake of good comprehension. 1. So what is this imperialism? According to Parati( 1995)”imperialism means the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interest of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land . Ake (1981:20) also saw the concept as the economic control an exploitation of foreign lands.labor raw-materials and markets of another people. further seeing it as a major force in the life of the third world. because the so-called industrialized expropriated the resources of the third world to feed their own industrialization.

responsibility and material well being. It establishes the role of dependence in imperialism. 3. It establishes the relationship between capitalism and imperialism and 2.employment of labor. Some of these are virtually moral categories and are difficult to evaluate depending as they do on the age in which one lives. whereby the former is dominated by the latter for the main purposes of plunder and extraction of. material and surplus value in a relationship that ends up leading to dependence. . It has elicited various definitions from scholars of diverse backgrounds and ideological underpinnings.rich and poor trading partners but the inequality of political and economic dependence of the latter on the former. However . it implies increased skill and capacity. This above definition is useful because it comes from the perspective of some common sense view of imperialism but it did not establish a link between capitalism and imperialism. creativity. ones class. This definition could be seen as appropriate in the context of this paper because. greater freedom. Development and Underdevelopment: indeed the twin concepts of development and underdevelopment have remained problematic in terms of conceptualizations in the field of political science. what is indisputable is that the achievement of any of those aspects of personal development is very much tied in with the state of the society as a whole". origins and one’s personal code of what is right and what is wrong. The concept has thus been associated with an unequal economic relationship between states not simply the inequality of large and small . After exploring the above definitions by these authorities in the field it is now pertinent to see imperialism as the economic and political control of a geographical entity by another. According to Rodney (1972:21) “development in human society is a many sided process. self – discipline. 1. At the level of the individual.

Underdevelopment on the other hand does not connote the absence of development because every society has developed in one way or another to the extent possible. Underdevelopment therefore makes sense only as a means of comparing levels of development. then the society can be said to be developed. where he stated that virtually all . This perspective was aptly presented by Walter Rodney in “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”. According to John Montgomery and William Siffin cited in Abah (2000:5). When individuals making up a society are developed. some human groups have advanced further by producing more and becoming wealthier. “development is planned mobilization and direction of scarce resources to achieve constantly rising national goals and objectives formulated by the national machinery. the economically backward countries could only be called underdeveloped. This definition covers the fact that development cannot be given to a group of people or community but could only be said to have happened when the people in a given society are able to transform nature or manipulate it for their own betterment. Hence in comparison with the greater affluence of the countries of Europe and North America. It is very much tied to the fact that social development has been uneven and from a strictly economic point of view. Fred Riggs also cited in Abah(2000:5) is however more inclined to equate development with freedom as he defines it as increase I the level of of autonomy and discretion of social system. which is as a result of the creative energies of the individuals in that society. To them government must be involved in the development process of a given geographical entity or a semi-autonomous political unit. In the context of this paper it is better to see development as the qualitative and quantitative increase in society.This above exposition of development by Rodney posits that the societal and economic variants of development are all hinged on the individual.

underdeveloped countries of the Third World without exception passed through a colonial era and the trauma of colonialism impacted upon them the condition of underdevelopment. This is because the imperialist nations have seized control of five monopolies. It is also instructive of how the underdeveloped post colonial economies Of Africa. This view by Rodney (1972) blamed the underdeveloped status of the third world on imperialism. . Backwardness in science and technology is also another major area where the third-world lags behind in the balanced of world economy. Major projects that require the employment of advanced science and technology are now being contracted out to European multinational and transnational companies. Asia and. which are (1) technological monopoly (2) monopolistic control of worldwide financial markets (3) media and communications monopolies and (4) monopoly of weapons of mass destruction and other advanced means of destruction. Latin America that are now impoverished and pauperized were as a result of imperialism. There can be no doubt that there is still a widening gap between the central and peripheral states in world economy and politics today. Today the gap between the so-called developed countries and the underdeveloped countries is so wide. Asia and Latin America. This above situation puts the third world countries in a competitive disadvantage when it comes to trade and investment. Dependency is the order of the day in which the countries of the third world depend on the industrialized nations for almost everything ranging from goods to services. The third world countries have been relegated to the background and only made relevant in the area of supply of Raw Materials in the international division of labor. fused into the global capitalist economy to compete side by side with the industrialized economies of Western Europe and North America. So we can say today that the communities in Africa.

“survival” and growth. or something for support. survival or enhancement In development studies dependency speaks of a situation in which a particular country or region relies on another for support. whose GDP and per capita income exceed 7% per annum .0. for the • In this capitalist system countries are divided into Metropoles and Satellites (Frank) or Core and Semi-periphery and Periphery (Wallenstein) • Core Countries/ are the Rich Industrialized Countries of the West. These below are the features of the dependency critique: • The existence of a Capitalist World System as a conduit pipe siphoning of the resources of the third world. 120) Dependency Theory emerged in the 1950s as a critique of Modernization Argues that these Classical theorists failed to recognize that Imperialism.3 Theoretical Perspective: The theoretical perspective that best suits the thesis of this paper is the dependency theory as propounded by Andre Gunder Frank. Immanuel Wallenstein and a host of other third world scholars. • Generally dependency is the reliance on a person. Dependency is a Neo-Marxist perspective that maintains that Third World countries are Underdeveloped because of the activities of the First World (developed and industrialized nations) Dependency theory holds that “the condition of underdevelopment is precisely the result of the incorporation of the Third World economies into the capitalist world system which is dominated by the West and North America” (Randall and Theo bald 1998. Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism is solely responsible for the development of the First World and the subsequent underdevelopment of the Third World.

In general the theory of dependency holds that both . . Taiwan. Caribbean. South Korea (Asian Tigers). Semi-peripheries: Newly industrialized countries. Cuba. the political and the economic life of the third. This is because imperialism has made a major impact amongst the so. This is because the imperialist nations of the west have created artificial underdevelopment in the third world through imperialism. Singapore. According to Andre Gunder Frank. The extraction of wealth (Natural resources and capital) followed leading to the transfer of this wealth to Europe facilitating industrialization and development (Rodney.political and economic dependency are inversely and significantly related economic prosperity. Portugal. Mexico. 1999).called third world or less developed countries and has even altered their modes of production that should be historically determined. African and East Asian States. Indonesia. China. • The capitalist system operates where peripheries/Satellites provide raw material for the Core/Metrpole countries who manufacture and sells it.• Peripheries are those countries whose annual rate of growth is less than 57% and are primary producers of goods and services. Venezuela. 1972). Dependency according to scholars emerged as a result of Europe’s drive to capital accumulation. Spain and Italy. “monopoly control of trade and unequal exchange between metropole and satellite resulted in the extraction of surplus value (Potter and Binns et al. Egypt. In order for these backward to countries to develop they must disassociate themselves from all relations with the first world. that is more dependent countries are also less prosperous. Thus the basis of dependency and Underdevelopment. 0.world cannot be studied imperialism.4 Imperialism and Third world Underdevelopment As has been earlier posited in this paper. Brazil. Thus led to the colonization of Latin American.

The value of raw materials and commodities the Indians were obliged to send to Britain during most of the 19th century amounted yearly to more than the total income of the sixty million Indian agricultural and industrial workers. then it forcibly underdeveloped that country. . India’s debt had grown to 53 million pounds. Within a matter of years. The enormous wealth extracted should remind us that there originally were few really poor nations. By 1830. a practice which was backed by the British Gunboats and military force.A. In 1810. From 1850 to 1900 its per-capita income dropped from almost two-thirds. India was exporting more textiles to England than England was exporting to India. the trade flows was reversed.According to Rodney (1972:3) every people have shown a capacity for independently increasing their ability to live a more satisfactory life through exploiting the resources of nature.S. The British had put up prohibitive tariff barriers to shut out Indian finished goods and were dumping their commodities in India. The Indians were sent back to the land to raise the cotton used in British textile factories. A classical example of this above statement was the situation of India. France and the U. The massive poverty we associate with India despite its recent growth was the country’s original historical condition. Every continent independently participated in the early epochs of the extension of man’s control over his environment which means in effect that every continent can point to a period of economic development. Similar processes occurred throughout the third-world. The result of the above relationship was that by 1850. Drawing from Rodney above even the so-called third-world countries today showed some form of development pattern before external interference from the imperial nations such as . First it ended India’s development process. the great textile centers of Dacca and Madras were turned into ghost towns. In effect India was reduced to being a cow milked by British financiers. British imperialism did two things. Britain.

5 percent. the Maghreb. Zaire. By the late twentieth century. However. .Countries like Brazil. Western colonization and imperialism have created a lower rather than a higher living standard. they accounted for less than 15 percent. Bolivia. most of thirdworld is not “underdeveloped but overexploited”. By 1860. As historian David Christian has noted. in Africa countries like Egypt. The industrialized or imperialist nations also used their MNCs (Multinational Corporations) or even Transnational Corporations to further plunder the resources of the third-world till today.3 percent in 1800 to 6. this had fallen to 36.3 percent in 1953. These economies were now made to compete side –by-side with the already developed countries. China’s share of world industry fell from 33. The above example is instructive of imperialism because it shows how the phenomenon has over the years transferred or in a better sense expropriated the wealth both human and material from the third-world to the developed and industrialized nations. Chile. when today’s third-world countries accounted to almost 75 percent of global industrial production.7 percent. Some have been so thoroughly plundered as to be desolate in all respects. A according to Paul Baran(1957) in 1830. such developments were interrupted and cultural and socio-economic systems were halted and reinvented by the European imperialists. Basically. Sudan and Mali had already been developing on their own path before the 15th century. in Marx’s youth. Malaysia. the countries that make up what we now call the third-world accounted for 60. By 1953 it had declined to a low of 6.3 percent in 1900 and 2. Mexico. Ethiopia. Indonesia. and the Philippines were and sometimes still are rich in resources. But with the coming of western colonialism and imperialism. After the decolonization of the third-world countries the greatest blow that was dealt their politico-economic make up was how their underdeveloped capitalist economies were fused to the global capitalist economy. the decade in which Marx’s capital was written. “The twentieth century term the third-world could have made no sense in 1750.9 percent of the world’s industrial potential.

This is because major economic decisions are being made by the developed countries and by virtue of the technological advancement in the developed world. Africa and Latin America. trucks and a wide range of auto components in Canada. On the the other hand the third world is relegated to the background in the international division of labor. Belgium. the most dramatic increase being in cheap labor countries like South Korea. they tend to produce more goods for exportation to the third world. Transnational’s have developed a global production line. Such multinational corporations invest in countries with cheaper labor markets U. Nigeria. Taiwan and Singapore. Singapore. In Nigeria today which. control of the third-world. Today by controlling the substructure of the the third-world countries the imperialists who could be in more recent terms called neo-imperialists or neocolonialists control the substructure of the world economy and as such control the superstructure of the third.world countries.S corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent 84 percent from 1985 to 1990. and sometimes the media for indirect psychological . Also the metropolitan bourgeoisie of the industrialized economies further plunder the resources of the third world with the aid of the comprador Bourgeoisie. south Africa. Philippines. Yugoslavian. Venezuela . General motors’ has factories that produce cars. Brazil.As a classical example North-America and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia. by just producing raw materials which is a very primary stage of production and productivity. Also the situation brings about dependency on the industrialized nations for even local businesses. Spain. Today the third world is not being controlled directly like in the colonial period but the control today is indirect using the MNCs. . south Korea and a dozen other countries. the situation is not different from the other of the third-world. is also a third world country. This situation makes the third world countries run at a deficit balance of payment because they buy more than what they sell.

Whole civilizations have been altered. the influence of imperialism on the third –world cannot be overemphasized given its immense impact in determining the politico-economic standing of the third-world today.5 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION In conclusion. But immediate delinking may be fatalistic. . countries carved up and mode of productions artificially changed.0. A veritable solution to this situation is for the third-world countries to delink from whatsoever link they have with the imperialist nations. and dependencies created. So a slow process delinking will be advised so as to combat imperialism and underdevelopment in the third-world forever. The situation now remains where the third –world finds a solution for the further imperial exploitation and domination of the third-world.

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