The Defining Features of Imperialism and Neo-Imperialism
The main feature of imperialism was rapid territorial expansion. The boundaries within which the emperor ruled were much larger than the domestic population. There were different forms of imperial expansion and control. Colonialism was among the most common forms of imperialism, which implied dominance over different territories outside the Empire. In particular, the British colonies in Africa were under the auspices of the Colonial Office. The imperial reign was also recognized within the new paradigms of new-colonialism revealing that the colonial power avoided overt political and economic control unless their imperial interests were under the threat. The interests might be related to military and economic challenges that could become obstacles to further territorial expansion.
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Imperialism involves asymmetric relations between the dominating power and its client. Thus, the empire takes control of the colonial behavior to have an impact on economic and political development that would not contradict the empire’s purposes. It is more reasonable to consider the expansion of societies rather than that of states when it concerns imperialism and international relations. Further, Nicholson (2002) also introduces the industrial revolution in imperial states as the main feature of expansion. This is of particular concern to such imperial states as Russian, Britain, and the United States.
However, imperialism cannot be considered through the prism of economic expansion only because it strongly correlates with other important features, including personal interests, political influence, and social strategies.
As per the post-imperialism period, the former empires took control over other societies in terms of structural management and bullying. Possessing strong economic and military power, such countries as the United States, Russia, Britain, and France were involved in the Cold War confrontation, which had a negative impact on less powerful societies. In particular, the Soviet Union was the brightest example of post-imperial states whose influence on former colonies was tangible. Although empires no longer existed, the emergence of the communist movement gave rise to a new form of political power. In contrast to communist domination, the situation with Latin America differed much.
Although the United Stated exerted no formal control over Latin American economies, the U.S government still prevailed over their economic and political interests. The emerged dependency is explained by the inability of less developed post-colonial states to proceed with the economic growth separately from powerful economies. As a result, imperialism also acquired cultural meaning pointing to the influence of a stronger society on the weaker ones.
Author’s Understanding of US Imperialism
Pilger (2009) was more focused on US imperialism as the divine right of the United States to liberate the world from the communist movement and provide humanity with liberty. Therefore, the Americans had a full impact on the social, political, and economic welfare of the rest of the world. Therefore, the author refers to the concept of American exceptionalism rather than to imperial control to define the US view on economic expansion.
Hence, the term ‘imperialism’ was excluded from the American vocabulary because it failed to cover the overall purpose of the American influence on the international scene. The U.S. government was more committed to exercising power and control over the territories with weaker economic and social structures.
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Similarities and Differences in Defining Imperialism as Described by Nicholson and by Pilger
In contrast to Nicholson (2002) who presents US imperialism in the light of its informal control of Latin America and ignores its negative impact on the political development of subordinated economies, Pilger (2009) is more concerned with the moral and social influence of the U.S. dominance over the rest of the world. Second, Pilger (2009) criticizes the U.S. expansion because it does not have any morally justified grounds for interfering with the economies of less developed countries for personal benefits. The veritable purposes, however, have been disguised under good intentions of the American government to rescue the world from inequality and injustice.
As per the similarities, both view US imperialism as the government’s hidden attempt to influence the former colonial world through political and economic support. Both authors also refer to the U.S. vision of their policy as the ordained right to help poorer countries and influence their social and political environment. Although they strived to ensure welfare and safety to the world’s population, their expansion was not confined to peaceful intervention.
Analysis of Arguments as Presented in the Assigned Readings
Both readings under analysis have presented a consistent and succinct explanation of the forms and nature of imperialism within a specific context. In particular, Nicholson (2002) focuses on imperialism in a broader sense to consider various features and types of imperial control in Western and Eastern societies. His explanations, however, are more neutral and less critical. In contrast, Pilger (2009) refers to American exceptionalism as a specific form of imperial dominance, which justified violence and invasion toward developing economies. In fact, the author criticizes the policy of the U.S. government presented as its duty to introduce shifts to social and economic development, as well as its desire and moral right to support the poorer societies.
Nicholson, M 2002, “Imperialism, Post-Imperialism and Neo-Imperialism”, in M Nicholson (ed), International Relations: A Concise Introduction, Palgrave, Basingstoke. pp. 68-89.
Pilger, J 2009, “Mourn on the Fourth of July”, Socialist Worker. Web.