Good Example Of Consequences Of Colonialism On Developing Countries Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Colonization, Colonialism, Colony, Colonial, Politics, Economics, Development, Countries

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/19


According to the Stanford online encyclopedia of philosophy, colonialism is the situation in the society when one social group exercises domination over another social group by making them their subjects. In the ancient times, the Greek and the Romans set up territories out of their geographical boundaries where they exercised political control and economic control through the leadership of the royalty and the collection of taxes respectively. This was the first form of colonialism. In the past four hundred years, European nations exercised dominance and influence over other territories all over the world. The most affected continents included Africa and Asia where the colonial dominance lasted longest. The longest colonized country in the world is Mozambique, which was under the rule of the Portuguese for 470 years. The main goal of the colonialist invasion e.g. in the scramble for Africa was to spread civilization to the non-westerners in form of religion, education, economic infrastructure and politics. The colonialism advanced by the European nations had lasting social, economic and political effects to the colonial territories.
In all critical analyses of this social political phenomenon, it is essential to distinguish between colonialism and imperialism. Colonialism involved the movement of part of the demographic to a colonial territory in form of settlers to live there permanently while remaining politically affiliated to the mother country. This permanent residence involved the exploitation of the resources in the colonial territory. On the other hand, imperialism puts more emphasis on the mechanism of exercising power over the colonial territory. Therefore, while sometimes the two terms have synonymous uses, the term colonialism is broader in that it accounts for all the facets of subjugation and dominance in the colonial territory from social dominance to political dominance and economic dominance. This paper will critically analyze the negative and positive consequences of colonization.

The social effects of colonialism

One of the most widespread impacts of colonialism is its impact on the social structure of the colonial territories. The first social effect was the violation of human rights. The colonial dominance and subjugation of the colonial territories by their colonial masters faced a lot of opposition from the colonial territories. The colonial policies were disruptive to the social order of the colonial territories. The colonial masters viewed the cultural subscriptions and social values of their colonial territories as obstinate and uncivilized and they endeavored to spread civilization through imposing new policies on them. The way that that they executed these policies was oppressive to the human rights of the colonized societies. Some of these policies like slavery for economic benefit of the motherland oppressed the human rights of the colonized territories.
In his theory of racialization, Frantz Fanon describes how the westerners subjected the colonial territories to dehumanization. According to him, all human beings deserve humane treatment because of their unique identity, which makes no human superior to another. He also advocated for the independence of each member of the human race from the dominion by other member of the human race. In this theory, he describes that the westerners believed that they were superior to the other races hence he acts of slavery for their economic benefit. This resulted to acts of slavery and apartheid by the colonialists in Africa. In addition, to gain control and dominance, the colonial governments used brutal force against the resistance in the colonial territories and this was the worst global genocide of all times. This, he says, is violation of human rights.
In another theory, the labor theory of value, Adam Smith suggests that subjecting the colonized people to forced labor would increase the productivity of the capitalist economies. The theory explains the process of acquisition of labor in the capitalist economy. The labor does not get a remuneration equivalent to the value of production in order to maximize profits. Therefore, cheaper labor through slaves increased the productivity. This compounded with the racialization tendencies of the European countries motivated the oppression of the human rights of the colonized people.
The second social effect of colonization is the introduction of new cultures and disruption of the old ones. Colonialism obliterated the native culture of the colonial territories and introduced their own cultural aspects to the communities they colonized. For instance, English has dominated as one of the mostly used international languages triumphing over the native languages of different countries in Africa and Asia. This is an indication of how colonization caused the erosion of the culture of the developing countries and replaced it with its own. In addition to this, the colonial territories departed from their initial education systems and started following the colonialist education systems. The apprenticeship education system and the informal education system in the African and Asian societies fell out of favor of the native populations. Instead, they sought to fit in the western education system.
The social identity theory best explains this effect of colonialism. After colonialism, the colonized territories needed to identify with a social group based on their similarity to feel as part of the rest of the world. The essentialism theory developed by Aristotle and Plato suggests that there are certain attributes that make something what it is. When applied to the development of social identity, essentialism is critical in the development of an identity because the acquisition of the prescribed attributes gives one a social identity. Since the colonized societies already had differences in race, one of the ways to fit in the world dominated by the westerners was by adopting their way of life. This is westernization and it is responsible for the attrition of the native culture and the replacement of the original cultural values with westernized versions of cultural subscriptions.
The third consequence of colonialism on developing countries is the aggravation of ethnic rivalries. Though the ethnic differences existed before the invasion by the colonialists, the arrival of colonial rule aggravated the magnitude of these ethnic rivalries. The ethnic groups had their own ways of solving their disputes and this way there was peace an understanding. However when they rule, they had to abide by the rules of the colonial masters who were placed under colonial. The colonial master favored some ethnic groups than others and this created tension over the period of colonial occupation. When the colonial masters left, the ethnic groups oppressed during colonial rule turned against the members of the society favored by the colonial rule and this is the cause of most ethnic clashes in the developing countries. For instance, the Rwanda genocide involving the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic communities had its roots in colonial injustices.

Economic effects of colonialism

In order to understand the economic impact of colonialism, it is imperative to understand the Marxist economic theory. According to this theory developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, capitalism promotes productivity in a nation. The main reason for colonialism was economic gain. Capitalism on the other hand is a system of economy where the hands of private entities that trade it in a free market. The result of such an economic system is that there is a small group of wealthy people and a large group of the poor people. The European economic system was capitalist and hence the need to have more economic resources necessitated colonialism.
In light of the Marxist economic theory, the first consequence of colonialism in developing countries is the depletion of economic resources and destruction of the initial economy. The colonial invasion used extreme military force to institute their rule on the already existing native social rule. They killed large portions of the demographic of the colonial territories that provided labor to the original economies. In addition, the destruction of villages that was a mark of the economic strength of the native populations paralyzed the economy of these territories. To aggravate this, the westerners started siphoning resources from the conquered colonial territories after the colonial occupation to benefit their capitalist motherland. They built their gold reserves with gold from Africa and exploited other mineral ores like diamond and copper. This would enable them to become more productive according to the Marxist economic theory.
The second economic effect of colonization is the unequal distribution of resources. According to the Marxist economic theory, profits drive the capitalist economy. Therefore, the colonial masters could go to any lengths to ensure that they had profits. The social structure of the colonized territories was such that there was a diverse nature of the cultural groups in one territory, especially in Africa. As a result, there were inter-tribal rivalries within the territories due to issues like pastoral land ownership. In their quest to remain sovereign, some of the tribal groups in the territories that the colonialists invaded resisted the invasion while others pledged allegiance to the colonialists. The colonialists took advantage of the tribal cracks in the structure of the colonized society to sabotage the resistance. They favored the communities that pledged allegiance while those that resisted the colonial invasion received punishment and extreme oppression.
The favoring of one ethnic society over the other in the colonial times gave rise to widespread economic disparities between regions in the post-colonial period. For instance, during the British colonization of Uganda, there were two rival tribes, the Buganda and the Bunyoro. The British government favored the Buganda tribe and consequently took away the Bunyoro land resources and allocated them to the Buganda tribesmen. Today, there is projection of this inequality in land ownership and allocation of associated resources where most of the landowners in Uganda today are of the Buganda tribe.
The third effect of colonization was the improvement of the infrastructure. In their new territories, the colonial masters needed a robust means of transport in order to succeed in exercising control. They also needed a functioning means of communication to ensure speedy transmission of information. This infrastructure was available in most western countries thanks to the advances in technology. Therefore, there was need to replicate the infrastructure models in the new territories. One of the most famous infrastructures by the colonial masters is the railroad in Kenya and Uganda, colonial territories of the British. The British built this infrastructure to facilitate the movement of its soldiers and settler families from the port to the inland territory that was only accessible by land. After the colonial masters left, they left behind the infrastructure built during their time and this benefited the new sovereign nations by being valuable assets to their economy. The Belgian colonialists in Congo built a road network that opened up access to the gold rich central Africa to the rest of the world. Other infrastructure included urban settlements and telecommunication lines. These facilitated the sending of voice calls and fax.

Political effects of colonization

One of the political effects of colonialism on developing countries is the centralization of the political structure in the colonial territories. Before the invasion of the colonialists, most of the present day political demarcations did not exist. For instance, the African countries as we know them today are a result of the scramble and partition of Africa by the western powers. Before this, the continent comprised of independent kingdoms and territories with different forms of governance and political structure. The election of the political leaders was different. Some societies were under monarchy rule while others used tribal kings chosen through wars.
The colonialists subdivided the African continent into geographical boundaries and established a central form of government for each of the territories. This dissolved the initial from of governance. Even in the cases where the tribal kings collaborated with the colonial powers, there was a central government affiliated to the mother colonial government that passed policies in the colonial territory. This disrupted the initial political formation of the developing countries from ad hoc territories to an organized and centrally executed form of governance.
The second political effect of the colonialism on developing countries is the effect to the subsequent political structure and legislations in the independent developing countries. One of the requirements for independence was a functioning system of government. Since a central form of governance did not exist in the developing countries, they had to replicate the western way of governance. One of the developments was the spread of democracy in the developing countries. This is the choice of the political leaders through a popular vote where the most popular candidate becomes the leader. Most of the colonial powers had a presidency form of government where the president was the top executive political leader in the country. At independence, most developing countries had a presidency form of government; a clear indicator of the influence of the colonial powers on the political structure o the developing countries in the postcolonial period.
For a robust political structure, there was need for a formal legal framework upon which to base all the policies of governance. This led to the need for the development of a constitution. The constitution is the legal document that established the laws of the land to ensure law and order among the citizens and to establish a framework for governance. The first constitutions of the independent territories were structurally similar to the one of the colonial masters. Most of the parliamentary systems of the constitution of the British territories had the same structure as the Great Britain. This shows that colonialism also had a significant impact to the constitution of the colonial territories in the postcolonial period.
The post-colonialism theory best explains the evolution of politics in the colonized territories. This theory explains the legacy left behind by the colonialists in the colonial territories. One concept in this theory that is relevant to the political outcome of colonialism is the subaltern society. According to this theory, the subaltern community is the community without their own means of political or social expression thus has to rely on the framework of others to express themselves. This concept explains the use of the legal language and content of the colonial masters in the postcolonial constitutions.


Colonialism had a myriad of economic, social and political consequences to the developing countries. Some of the consequences were positive while others were negative to the future of the colonized countries. The capitalist nature of the economy of most European countries made them invade the developing countries to express dominance over them leaving them with indelible effects of this occupation. Consequently, the present day social, economic and political state in the developing countries is a product of colonialism.


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