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We live in a world in which the consequences of the 19th century western imperialism are still being felt. To comprehend the variety of problems facing the third world societies, a large body of theory has emerged behind the concept of imperialism. These theories fall under two rival camps, the liberal and the radical theories of imperialism This essay is an attempt to explain the role and concept of imperialism according to the Radical school of thought. Beginning by defining a few key terms then later, using underdevelopment in less developed countries to help justify the perspectives explanation for imperialism. Imperialism can be defined as a policy of extending the control or authority over entities as a means of acquisition and maintenance of empires through direct territorial or through indirect method of exerting control on politics or economies of other countries (Loomba 1998:2). Imperialism is used by some to describe the policy of a country in maintaining colonies and dominance over distant lands regardless of whether a country calls itself an empire. Thus the imperial country is the metro pole from which power flows and the colony is the place which it penetrates and controls. By 1910, Africa had been divided up among the Europeans and from then onwards decisions affecting Africa and its people were made not in Africa but in European countries. (Alavi 1964) Africa was tremendously rich in natural resources and European countries ultimately gained control of these territories and had free and easy access to the abundant natural resources and labour in these areas through the signing of treaties and agreements. Africans never really understood these treaties and did not realise what they were giving away. Hence, the decisions made almost a century ago have had far fetching consequences that are evident even today. With this background, Radical theorists argue that the main motive behind imperial expansion was an economic one. The theories are basically derived from the Marxist system of production referred to as capitalism. Imperialism as such is closely related and associated with capitalism and capitalist development. In a Radical theorists view, if imperialism is defined as a political system in which an imperial centre governs the colonialised countries, then the granting of political independence, would signify the end of an empire and the consequently the collapse of imperialism which most countries in the third world have had for decades. (Thiam 1975:69). However imperialism must be seen as an economic system of infiltration and control of markets such that political changes do not affect it and may even be redefined as in the case of American imperialism which yields enormous military and economic power across the globe but without political control. In other words direct political control isn’t necessary as earlier achieved, for imperialism in this sense because the economic relations of dependency and control ensure that they get cheap labour, goods as well as markets for western economies. Some note-worthy scholars to the radical school of thought are Lenin and Andre Gunda Frank. Lenin, however, gives more complete explanations of the radical school of thought concerning imperialism. Lenin saw imperialism as the development of direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general. Free competition which is the basic feature of capitalism is transformed into monopoly creating large scale industries and getting rid of the smaller ones. It also involves the concentration of production and capital to a point where it forms monopoly cartels, syndicates and trusts which when merged forms the capital of a dozen or so banks which manipulate thousands of millions (Lenin 1916:3). Lenin thus defined imperialism as the monopoly stage of capitalism. Lenin’s definition and understanding of imperialism includes five main features; Firstly the concentration of production and marketing has...
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