Imperialism, Neo Imperialism

In modern discourse, the term imperialism is generally considered by both mainstream historians and leftists to be a “dirty” word. The former regard it as a relic of the past, conjuring up images of pith helmets and colonial settlements, the Scramble for Africa and the “Great Game” in Central Asia. In Marxist discourse, the term (coupled with implications of racism) is a means to denigrate the West for its military and economic campaigns against regions with nominal independence.  Though we might be loathe to admit it, this is one instance in which the Left is more or less correct, even if it is for the wrong reasons. The imperialistic behaviour of France, Britain, the United States, and other powers today has not changed in essence; all that has changed is its outward appearance.

It must be noted that the United States was never an “Imperial” power in a traditional sense as the other European powers were.  It certainly had its sphere of influence, but its colonial possessions were insignificant in comparison to the vast possessions of the British and the French, who controlled empires on which the “sun never sets”.  The United States eschewed the usual planting of the flag, and the dramatic flare of colonial governors or viceroys, preferring to maintain their dominance through puppet governments which had nominal independence but by and large functioned under the direction of American interests.

“From Capetown to Cairo” English cartoon from 1892 titled the “Rhodes Colossus”

The European imperial powers were driven by the philosophy of mercantilism and the hunger for natural resources.  They were interested in economic gains from their colonies, but their colonial expansion were as much about social pride, grandiose designs, and the prestige of having an “empire” as it was in profiting from exclusive access not only to the said resources, but cheap labour, and in many cases, control of strategic points on the globe.  Indeed, after the Berlin Conference in 1884, the colonial acquisitions were made without even proper exploration; territories were carved out by the great powers without any actual knowledge of the resources or value of the land, much of which was useless. Such a notion would have been completely abnormal to one of purely economic outlook, as the prestige of gaining vast tracts of land was offset by the financial burden they would ultimately present. This pomp and prestige, the imperialism of pith helmets and titles was not suited for the American mindset which had no use for them.

While it had been recognized before World War II that these colonial acquisitions were a burden, it was only after the war that the “anti-colonial” movements truly began to gain traction, with the Soviets backing anti-colonial nationalists across the Third World, and the United States recognizing that the continued presence of European powers in the region would be great rallying point for the Soviet infiltration. Europeans themselves (with the exception of Portugal) recognized the need to gradually withdraw, but also wished to guarantee these regions remained firmly in the anti-communist camp. At the same time, many nations realized that they simply could not maintain these colonies at a loss, so independence was granted to former colonies.  But this independence came at a price, as most of former colonial subjects found.  Independence did not treat these newly independent states well, and they became afflicted with endless civil wars, corruption and incompetence.

Neo-imperialism may be a term mostly seen in Marxist discourse.  While Marxists may bandy about this accusation haphazardly, it takes a narrow mind to discount it because of who makes it rather than on its merit.  This is seen in the system of “banana republics” propped up by the American government in South America, and the “friendly” dictatorships and corrupt governments backed by the West in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It doesn’t take much to realize that a slave is more content when he believes he’s actually free, and most of these nominally independent nations have seen over the last century just how limited their“freedom” actually is. This form of imperialism is far more insidious, and far more damaging to the third world.  After World War II especially, most nations have been left with a choice of being an appendage to the western NATO camp or the Soviet Warsaw Pact camp. Unfortunately, that is not much of a choice at all, and many a leader who grew too independent in their thinking or actually placed faith in the Wilsonian principles of “right to self determination” and “independence” found out the hard way how hollow that rhetoric truly was. This has led to a situation in which anti-communism is not necessarily pro-nationalist, or pro-traditional in any way.  It has also caused the third world nations to become exposed to the social ills of consumer society.  In many cases, this is deliberate, for today’s modern “humanitarians” attempt to force Western, secular customs on former colonial subjects with no less zeal than did the missionaries of old, and in a tone which echoes the old “white man’s burden”.  The aim is precisely the same, with different goals: IMF restructuring demands, threats of bombings, and color revolutions, except now it’s a native puppet rather than a foreign colonial administration!

The Marxists usually focus on the exploitation of material, natural resources, and cheap labor in their discourse on “neo-imperialism,” but neglect to speak of cultural imperialism.  Indeed, there are a number of cultural Marxists who go so far to support American imperialist ventures precisely because of the fact that Western regimes force Third World countries to alter their laws regarding moral and family issues, from sodomy, abortion, and feminism to “hate crime” legislation and separation of church and state.  At the same time there is an influx of American cultural products, including films, music, and clothing (all of which is inappropriate, vulgar and ruinous to healthy, functioning societies).

Ugandans protest Obama and Western interference in their cultural affairs- specifically promoting homosexuality as acceptable behavior.

This is even happening in the West, where the situation has already reached way beyond a turning point.  For example, one has to go out of their way to find a venue that plays Irish music in Ireland.  Most of the radio is plays American pop staples.  The effect on the local music scene is profound as almost anywhere one goes, traditional music and art forms are relegated to the background, while decadent music, be it rap or dance music is ever-resent. Hollywood films are probably some of the most widely distributed worldwide, as they have been financed by huge banks, and have the capital to churn out larger budget productions than anything the European or Asian film industries can hope to produce. These films, by and large, are empty of substance and glamorize the most degenerate and disturbing behaviours.  Moreover, the entire artificial “teen” culture, promoted heavily in the media for decades has entirely taken root in Europe and the United States, where now a child did not grow into a man, but rather had an ever extending in between phase, celebrated in pop culture as a time of “rebelliousness, experimentation” etc. Essentially the “teen culture” sows the seeds of discord with the family, driving young men and women into empty hedonism, and stunting them emotionally.

Our political class and the captains of finance certainly wouldn’t be content to keep all these social ills to our corner of the world.  They are eager to spread it, so all over the world one can find young people deluded by a glamourous, hedonistic and nihilistic image of American life, totally devoid of responsibility, respect and honor. This is more dangerous and harmful, than all the “regime changes”, NATO bombings, and pilfering of resources possible as it makes a discontented youth, less able to connect with their own heritage and nation than with rootless, consumerism. It guarantees that the future generations will be simply too apathetic to care about ideals.

For some of the organs of propaganda in the West, and egalitarian “humanitarians”, there is a genuine belief the people actually benefit from this influence. At the end of the day, they wish to destroy the ideas of kin, faith, and traditions, or at the very least, relegate them to the background, either to be regarded as cultural-folk niche entirely disassociated with daily life, or to be sneeringly mocked by the majority of people.

For those in the West who remain apathetic to imperialistic cultural penetration in the third world, or concern themselves entirely with their own “backyard” regarding these issues, the great social collapse of Western civilization did not happen in a bubble, and unfortunately the same forces are at work across the world. Still, on the surface, the West is militarily and economically far stronger than their competitors despite the recent economic troubles. Non-westerners who mistakenly believe emulating the West will make them stronger would best remember that the Roman Empire was still winning great victories, even two decades before its physical end. There is little hope of things changing in the West as its entire traditional life has been completely uprooted, but every victory against the forces of secularism, “progressivism” and the like anywhere in the world is a victory for Tradition everywhere. Perhaps “western imperialism” and “neo colonialism” are misnomers, since the views and ideology emanating from the west today are as foreign to our own traditions as they are to the traditions of those around us. We must keep this in mind, as the world we inhabit in the west would be unrecognizable culturally from the world our ancestors inhabited only a few centuries ago. Today we stand isolated and surrounded by a materialistic anti culture, atomized entirely be extreme individualism. Today, the man who stands for something beyond material gain and profit finds himself very much alone in today’s world, but he stands as a beacon of light.

About Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson is a New York City resident with a degree in history.