Neocolonialism: the Relationship Between Superpowers and the Developing World

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Using examples assess the view that the relationship between superpowers and the developing world is a neo colonial one. (15)

The dominating capitalist ideology from superpowers has led to extreme inequalities between core and peripheral nations, which has resulted in an unstable relationship with the developing world. Neocolonialism is a geopolitical practice in which a superpower perpetuates its economic and political hegemony on underdeveloped nations. This indirect and ‘disguised’ Imperialism has continued in variable degrees between colonial powers and peripheral regions including Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

According to Dr Alice Lyman Miller, a superpower is: “a country with the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world”. Today there is a period of transition as the sovereign USA dominated world gives way to a multi-polar one, including the likes of the European Union and G8 countries (which represent 65% of global GNP, but only 14% world’s population). The Cold War (1947-1991) created a bi-polar world comprising the USSR’s Communist system, where all economic activity should be shared equally, controlled by a dictatorial state; and the USA’s Capitalist system, which many anti-neocolonialists argue has caused extreme inequalities in wealth, affecting the integration of developing nations into the global economic system. Both of these superpowers were accused of practicing neocolonialism in imperial and hegemonic pursuits.

In the aftermath of WWII (1939–45), decolonization and independence began in former colonial countries, as the British Empire declined in economy and military, as well as a loss of land control. However national leaders argued their countries were subject to a new indirect control from former colonial powers. The first president of independent Ghana Kwane Nkrumah, first used the term neocolonialism, which he referred to as ‘the worst form of imperialism’ in his book ‘Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of imperialism 1965’. Neocolonialism is indirect economic control, in parallel to colonialism, a direct political control.

The Marxist dependency theory emphasizes the existence of a capitalist world system and that core, developed countries in the North, keeps the peripheral countries in a state of underdevelopment in order to exploit resources. Neocolonialism has occurred in peripheral country Ghana, where core Britain indirectly controls the nation. In terms of trade, Britain pays low raw material and commodity export prices, where value is added through processing and industrialization. Ghana and subsequent countries facing neocolonialism pay high prices for manufactured goods. For this unequal relationship to be solved is for developing nations to be self-sufficient by controlling national resources (import substitution). To some extent, Britain seems very involved with Ghana’s wealth, and for this their relationship could be considered increasingly direct, and so more colonial.

The populist approach suggests the relationship between the superpowers and developing world is a colonial one due political argument for government action to ensure fairer distribution of wealth. It uses support from people for grass roots actions using a bottom up style of development, which takes into the views of colonial countries, whereas decisions associated with neocolonialism are controlled mainly by the developed world. Another mechanism seen to improve the relationship between developing world and superpowers are structural adjustment policies, where western economic policies devised by the IMF and World Bank relieve heavily indebted countries.

The relationship is seen as unstable because the development gap is continuing to widen as a result of globalization. The developing world (concentrated in the African continent) comprises nations of a low living standard, undeveloped industrial basis, and low Human Development index in relation to...
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