The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Colonialism and developing countries

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The process of colonisation, brutal as it came to be understood, had many implications for the people concerned in its manifestation as well as the people it was unleashed upon. These implications have been cultural, social and political in nature but the most important implication; indeed, the root cause of the process has always been economic. The economic ramifications are twofold. Firstly, there is the reason that the colonisers went to the colonies to access cheap local labour and raw material. However, the most important reason was that the colonisers had adopted a capitalist economy. In doing so, they had set themselves on an almost predestined path towards local market exhaustion.

Due to the crisis of over-production that is inherent to the capitalist mode of production the local labour was, through the processes of technological advancement, not just alienated from the fruits of their labour but was left poorer than the day before. This has the effect of negating the buying capacity of the masses. This coupled with a sophisticated machine of production that is the capitalist economy, geared towards the mindless pursuit of profit, brings about a condition whereby supply overshoots demand by many factors. This is the crisis of overproduction as explained by Joseph Stalin in his book Dialectical and Historical Materialism. Once this is understood it is easy to understand that colonisation was an almost reflexive self-preservation action on the part of these economies. The markets in the colonies were new and by any standard rich. It is no wonder that the British had such a stranglehold on the Indian subcontinent that was regarded at the time as the ‘Golden Bird’.

Neo-colonialism is a new phenomenon that refers, and not incorrectly so, to the domination of the developed nations in the present day world system. One could argue that such domination, based on the power held by these countries is justified. Indeed, this is the premise behind the powers of the vetoing members of the UN as well as the G-8. But one must also take into account that domination, by virtue of any precept, is domination on someone. It leads to a condition that any decision taken within the UN, whether for the betterment of a single country that deserves it or the world as a whole, is filtered through often rivalling interests of the developed countries. There are numerous examples of the developed countries impeding the growth of single countries or stalling steps for ensuring world stability and security for their own reasons. I shall focus on the later in my example. World disarmament has been talked about at length and has been accepted as a good foundation for future generations to build upon, yet the US refuses to sign this accord. Why is that?

It is precisely because it goes against the internal interests of this country to sign this document and seeing that the world super power does not have respect for UN resolutions, other countries refuse to sign it as well. This gives rise to, what I shall call the global glass-ceiling effect of sorts. The term originally defines the problems faced by women in progressing in a patriarchal society but the dynamics are virtually identical to the problems faced by the underdeveloped countries, trying to make progress in a world system geared towards the preservation of the interests of the developed counties.

Furthermore, instruments of debt perpetuation such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) give incentives to the underdeveloped countries to fulfil their short run goals by incurring long term debts on a scale that has long crossed the level of pay-ability. Whole economies have been wrecked by such measures taken by the WB and the most disturbing fact is that the motive behind such ‘help’ is not to alleviate the problems of an indebted country but to establish coercive leverage upon it. As in the case of Pakistan, the government is forced, through compliance of economic coercion, to adopt policies that benefit the developed countries, especially the US in the long run.

Lenin explains imperialism in the light of the creation of monopoly capitalism. He says, “The principal feature of the latest stage of capitalism is the domination of monopolist associations of big employers. These monopolies are most firmly established when all the sources of raw materials are captured by one group, and we have seen with what zeal the international capitalist associations exert every effort to deprive their rivals of all opportunity of competing to buy, for example, iron-fields, oil fields, etc. Colonial possession alone gives the monopolies complete guarantee against all contingencies in the struggle against competitors, including the case of the adversary wanting to be protected by a law establishing a state monopoly. The more capitalism is developed the more strongly the shortage of raw materials is felt, the more intense the competition and the hunt for the sources of raw materials throughout the whole world, the more desperate the struggle for the acquisition of colonies” (Imperialism, the Highest stage of Capitalism V. I. Lenin).

Globalisation, as can be seen, is a new link in a very old chain. It is an almost institutionalisation of Western capitalistic interests on a global level. The link between globalisation and inequality has long been established. According to Nancy Birdsall, there are two reasons for this. Firstly, the unequal sharing of the returns from what would become a super-efficient capitalist economy on a global scale. She attributes this to the characteristics of the world-market, which rewards those who enter it with the ‘right’ assets. Underdeveloped nations do not have these ‘right’ assets, all they can offer are cheap labour and resources that mostly they themselves cannot secure. The second reason is the imperfection of the phenomenon of markets. This means that an individual or a country can gain from the creation of negative effects. These negative effects, however, are not necessarily felt by the entity that produced them. In simple terms, one can create profit more recklessly without suffering the consequences of their actions.

Globalisation, therefore, is a new threat to the existence, freedom and sovereignty of the under-developed nations; the most sophisticated political and ideological beast yet to be unleashed by the West. It is, therefore, my contention that the urge to ‘gain support’, whether economic or political, through participating in the creation of this global polity be resisted for the eventual progress of any underdeveloped country.


Written by redtribution

April 20, 2008 at 11:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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