The 5 differences between colonialism and imperialism

The concepts of colonialism and imperialism are often confused, but they are not synonymous. It is true that both are political, military and economic phenomena in which one nation subjugates another to exploit it and use it to its advantage in its geostrategic objectives, but beyond this resemblance it is necessary to distinguish what involves each.

In this article we will see what are the differences between colonialism and imperialism and how each affects people’s lives.

    Main differences between imperialism and colonialism

    In the present or in the past, most people have been unable to enjoy sovereignty to decide their territory. The interests of foreign powers often govern everything that happens in the public and private spheres. And the fact is that neither the force of arms nor that of favors bought with money know any frontiers.

    Here is a list of the differences between colonialism and imperialism.

    1. Amplitude of the term

    The concept of imperialism refers to the removal of national sovereignty from the population of a country, Either formally or informally, in favor of another, dominating the first.

    On the other hand, colonialism can be understood as a means of removing the sovereignty of one region and in favor of another more concrete than imperialism. Thus, colonialism is a relatively specific phenomenon, while imperialism is a broader concept, as we will see.

    2. The explicit or implicit nature of domination

    In colonialism, it is clear that one country dominates another by forceJust like a kidnapper dominates the hostage. This does not prevent the dominant nation from taking advantage of the situation, as it does not need to give the impression that it is not leading all the relevant political and economic events taking place in the dominated party.

    In imperialism, on the contrary, it may happen that the country which exploits the other follows a strategy by which its dominant role is disguised, creating the conditions for it to appear that the weak country is sovereign. For example, it does not directly contradict the decisions of local governing bodies, although these are subject to the dictates of foreign authorities. The real authorities of a country may be in an embassy and not in the national parliament or congress.

    3. Whether or not direct physical violence is used

    Where there is colonialism, violence against the population can be exercised with relative freedom, Without having to report to other authorities. This is done both to suppress the possible popular revolts of the colonies against the metropolises and to reveal the military superiority of the colonizing nation over the colonized by fear.

    On the other hand, in imperialism, it is not essential to resort to direct military repression against the population in order to make domination effective. Indeed, the tools that the dominant country can use to impose its interests are so varied that it will be able to opt for other avenues, such as propaganda. In many cases, the dominant elites are not identified with the owners of capital from abroad.

      4. Differences in the arrival of colonizers

      In colonization, there is always an influx of settlers arriving in occupied lands, often directly evicting their former owners without a purchase being made. These can be families emigration may have been favored by the metropolis to weaken the influence of indigenous ethnic groups, or it may be a minority of families limited to owning the great resources of this territory. In addition, these families live apart from the native population and deal only with servants.

      In imperialism, on the other hand, this form of emigration should not take place and, in fact, it is common for the inhabitants of the subjugated lands to be forced to emigrate to the metropolis. On the other hand, in the imperialism of the dominated country, it can be stable enough that there is no need for the families controlling the territory to move to the region.

        5. Objectives sought by the dominant country

        Where there is colonialism, there is also a desire to exploit the natural resources of the subjugated region. Thus, the raw materials of these areas are extracted and these are normally processed in the dominant nation of the other, as it is at this stage of production where there is more added value.

        In imperialism, the above situation can also happen, but it does not always happen. Sometimes just a region is dominated to promote military or other interests. For example, it is possible to take control of a country close to another with which it competes to destabilize the region and harm the adversary by always subjecting it to the risk of internal rebellions, secessionist movements, etc. .


        Colonialism and imperialism are both based on the removal of the sovereignty of a national collective in favor of the extractivist or geostrategic interests of the elites of the dominant countryBut beyond that, the two types of power work in a slightly different way.

        In general, colonialism is based on brute force in order to plunder the natural resources of the subjugated area, as well as to exploit the popular classes through slavery or semi-slavery. In imperialism, this domination can be further disguised under the pretext that each one is free to offer or not the jobs which are offered to him and the market markets which he can choose from his situation of manifest inferiority.

        In any case, the dominant elites take advantage of the material inequalities that already exist between their country of origin and the subjugated. create new inequalities through operation of other countries and border control by ferry.

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