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Imperialism

Imperialism is a type of advocacy of empire. Its name originated from the Latin word "imperium",
meaning to rule over large territories. Imperialism is "a policy of extending a country's power and
influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means".[2] Imperialism has greatly
shaped the contemporary world.[3]
The term imperialism has been applied to Western political and economic dominance in the 19th and
20th centuries, however its precise meaning continues to be debated by scholars. For example,
cartographers of the nineteenth century used cartography to further fuel imperialism. As scholar
Bassett notes, "Maps were used in various ways to extend European hegemony over foreign and
often unknown territory."[4] It is better to use terms such as cultural or economic imperialism to
describe some of these less formal types of domination.[5]Some writers, such as Edward Said, use
the term more broadly to describe any system of domination and subordination organised with an
imperial center and a periphery.[6] From a Marxist perspective, imperialism is a natural feature of a
developed capitalist nation state as it matures into monopoly capitalism. In Lenin's work Imperialism,
the Highest Stage of Capitalism, he observed that as capitalism matured in the Western world,
economies shifted away from manufacturing towards banking, finance, and capital markets, as
production was outsourced to the empires' colonies. Lenin concluded that competition
between Empire and the unfettered drive to maximize profit would lead to wars between the empires
themselves, such as the contemporary First World War, as well as continued future military
interventions and occupations in the colonies to establish, expand, and exploit less developed
markets for the monopolist corporations of the empires.
Imperialism is defined as "an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an
empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of
authority and control of one state or people over another."[2] Imperialism is a process and ideology
that does not only focus on political dominance, but rather, conquest over expansion. Imperialism is
particularly focused on the control that one group, often a state power, has on another group of
people.[7] There are "formal" or "informal" imperialism. "Formal imperialism" is, "the physical control
or full-fledged colonial rule".[7] "Informal control" is less direct, however; it is still a powerful form of
dominance.[7] There are three waves of imperialism; Americas (North, South and the Caribbean),
Asia and Africa.[3] From the fifteenth century forward, Spain and Portugal were responsible for
colonizing South America. Both Spain and Portugal were soon followed by the British, French and
Dutch, who gained territory in North America.[3] Britain, with the support from the East India
Company, colonized Asia. Portugal, Netherlands and France also had Asian colonial
possessions.[3] The third wave, Africa, was described as "New Imperialism".[3] This was structured by
the "Berlin Conference (188485), which involved the main European powers and served to divide
Africa between them".[3]

The definition of imperialism has not been finalized for centuries and was confusedly seen to
represent the policies of European colonial powers, or of the United States, or of any allegedly
expansionist power or simply, general-purpose aggressiveness. This confusion was caused by
Lenin's theory (Leninism), which was widely persuasive. Further on, some writers used the term
imperialism, in slightly more discriminating fashion, to mean all kinds of domination or control by a
group of people over another. To clear out this confusion about the definition of imperialism, one
could speak of "formal" and "informal" imperialism. The first meaning physical control or "full-fledged
colonial rule", while the second implied less direct rule though still contains perceivable kinds of
dominance.[7] Informal rule is generally less costly than taking over territories formally. This is
because, with informal rule, the control is spread more subtly through technological superiority,
enforcing land officials into large debts that cannot be repaid, ownership of private industries thus
expanding the controlled area, or having countries agree to uneven trade agreements
forcefully.[8] Some examples of formal imperialism are: British rule of the colonies in America before
1776, India (1858 1947), Hong Kong (1842 1997), and Kenya (1920 1963).[7] Some examples
of informal imperialism are: Britain's 19th-century hegemony in Chile and Iraq,[7] or the owning of
more than 70 percent of banana companies in Guatemala by the USA.[8]
It is mostly accepted that modern-day colonialism is an expression of imperialism and cannot exist
without the latter. The extent to which "informal" imperialism with no formal colonies is properly
described remains a controversial topic amongst historians.[9] Both colonisation and imperialism have
been described by Tom Nairn and Paul James as early forms of globalization:
Even if a particular empire does not have a "global reach" as we would define it today, empires by
their nature still tend to contribute to processes of globalization because of the way that imperial
power tends to generate counter-power at its edge-lands and send out reverberations far beyond the
territories of their immediate control.[10]
The word imperialism became common in the United Kingdom during the 1870s and was used with
a negative connotation.[11] In Great Britain, the word had until then mostly been used to refer to the
politics of Napoleon III in obtaining favorable public opinion in France through foreign military
interventions.[11]