Neo-colonialism is the successor to colonialism or empire building. In the 18th and 19th centuries European countries were fairly advanced and powerful on a global scale. During that time they colonised most of the rest of the world. Why? Very simply, the point of a regime colonising a new piece of land is to extract the natural resources therein and to exploit the labour of the people therein. In the first half of the 20th century old school colonialism was phased out and neo-colonialism was phased in, same thing, exact same point, new tactics.
Here are the big 5 tactics as identified by me, that define neo-colonialism:
1. Intellectual property piracy: Intellectual property rights are a state guaranteed monopoly on access to and use of information. In a free market system when a company finds a new clever way to make a product more efficiently it benefits for a little while by being ahead of the game. Because no one else knows about the new way of doing things yet prices remain the same but the cost of production for this particular company goes down, this means profits will increase for a little while. With intellectual property laws in place the company can patent their new way of doing things to prevent others from copying them, thus giving them a permanent, rather than temporary, advantage (hmmm...). Intellectual property laws have been vastly expanded under neo-colonialism though, especially since the end of the cold war as groups like the World Trade Organisation have accelerated the progression of capitalism towards it's horrific predictable end. It is now possible to patent not just methods of production but products themselves and charge extortionate rents for access to them. This is how "brand names" are able to use sweatshop labour and then mark up the price to the extent they do, this is why crucial medicines can't reach parts of Africa where they are needed, this is why farmers in India are having to pay to access seeds that they developed and that pirate corporations have stolen and patented, even our genes inside us have been patented. Parent holders are overwhelmingly corporations based in wealthy countries so the whole thing represents nothing but a massive transfer of wealth from the global poor to the global mega-rich. This is a major reason why it is an unrealistic comparison to compare first world nations when they were industrialising with third world nations today. Third world nations are stuck in this position in a way that western nations were not.
|Time to stop looking on with pity and start getting angry|
2. Colonial legacy governments: Colonial regimes did not set up governmental structures to act as representatives for the people in the way that European liberal democracies claim to do. They set them up to hoover wealth up towards the top of the social, metaphorical pyramid. This has left the top spot in many countries extremely desirable, access to political power gives unchecked access to resources that, however much we dislike cronyism in the west, is unparalleled here. This has led to corruption, coups, civil wars, genocides and the like. This alone would be awful but those who occupy the highest positions of power in third world nations are not supposed to do it to grab resources purely for themselves; pressure and intimidation from western powers and corporations and the constant threat of economic sanctions or even military action for not playing ball means that they continue to open the doors for the exploitation of their people and natural resources to big western corporations.
3. Land grabbing: Following on from point two. Land grabs are a tremendous source of pain and suffering in the third world. Probably a billion people on this planet have no security in their land and accommodation. Third world governments use eminent domain powers to remove land from poor people and hand it over to corporations seeking to mine, cut down trees, farm etc. on it. Corporations also use manipulation and fraud to convince people to give up their land for much less than it is worth. Conservation charities have also been notoriously bad at this. Land grabbing is capitalism's original sin, it turns people into landless workers who are much easier to exploit, completely disenfranchising them, no about of generosity or 'compassionate capitalism' is going to make that better and capitalism itself simply wouldn't work without it (in Europe this process was known as privatisation of the commons and it made the industrial and agricultural revolution possible).
4. International borders: As described above, the global economy is set up in such a way that capital and goods flow freely out of poor countries and into rich ones, people however do not. International borders, especially the fortified first world prevent poor people from escaping the hopeless poverty they face at home and going to the places where their wealth is enjoyed. Ordinary people in the west may not be the primary receivers of all this wealth but it is obvious from the way I used to be able to sit in an office pretending to scan bits of paper in my first job when I left school and do about 2 hours actual work a day and get paid far better than the vast majority of the third world that westerners do get thrown a good bit of the surplus of what is robbed from everyone else (I now work hard, but still).
5. Military action: At the end of the day, despite the fact that neo-colonialism has been an indirect form of empire building and empire maintenance it has not been shy about using the military as source of corporate welfare. Whether its big oil in the Middle East, the arms trade anywhere, mining companies in Africa etc. if the local puppet government can't handle a conflict which could threaten the continued pillaging by western corporations one military or another will be called in to restore, what has come to be known as 'peace', which you can read as 'the silence of the oppressed'.
|Landlord Bear - find him on Facebook.|
The third world is not poor, it is being pillaged on a massive scale, this isn't the actions of a corrupt group of rouge corporations who could be named and shamed, this is the fundamental basis of the entire global economy.
If you can tell me how we can do something about this mess without a worldwide revolution I'll be all ears because the people who run this system have proved, time and time again that they will kill to protect it.