Is all this Globalisation not just a modern form of Colonialism?

It can be said that ‘classic’ colonialism or colonialism as we know it ended after World War II. Post-World War II saw rapid economic growth and policymakers in the west began to question if ‘modernisation theory’ was in fact a real, not too distant theory. ‘Modernisation theory’ seeks to identify the social variables that affect overall development and social progress of the society within a nation. Quintessentially, it attempts to explain the nation’s overall social evolution. It argued, not without controversy, that the countries that adopted capitalism and resisted communism would be the nations that advanced socially and economically. This can now be seen with stronger Western values such as culture in modern times and eventually a globalised world.

The media has played a pivotal role in this development, ensuring that the people of the West believe that globalisation is the correct way of life. This is despite the fact that it has a very close relationship with colonialism. Although Colonialism appears to no longer exist, it is still very much in effect. The most powerful parts of the world are the places that have profited most from world resources such as gold and diamonds which were essentially decided by Colonialism. Not only did Colonialism leave some countries highly privileged it left many worse off. This can be seen with Africa, Latin America and Asia being stripped of their resources on the behalf of North America and Europe. The power that has come through the West has ideally come through these past actions. This has essentially led us to Globalisation. Globalisation is the widening, deepening and acceleration of global interconnections and independencies between people, culture and economies. It is also a global network of political ideas through communication, transportation, and trade. Globalisation is always in movement and is a process rather than a completed stagnate fact.

This Globalised world has been most influential in finance, industry and the overall global economy. This has unsurprisingly benefited formally colonised states. Therefore, it could be said that the most Globalised states are the states that were previously the most Colonised. Further evidence is shown in the boom of the oil industry. With Western nations demanding cheap energy to provide a high standard of living to their population. This relationship between Colonialism and Globalisation continues into the arena of international trade and economy. When states trade there is almost always a winner and a loser, especially between the global north and south. Additionally, this gain of economic wealth for the 1st world state pushes the advancement of military-political power even further ahead. This has direct resemblance to the aspects of colonialism which were pragmatic throughout the 16th-19th century.

In order to further understand the relationship between Colonialism and Globalisation one must look back through history and the forms of communication before the world finally got to where it is now with another link that is ‘electronic colonialism’. Before World War I, mostly mail and newspapers comprised the majority of international communication. Electronic communication was scarce with telegraph and wireless systems using Morse code. Considerable international expansion of mass media finally took surge after World War II in 1945. This was seen in regards to cultural products as well as trans-border actions relating to communication powering forward. This process was sped up even further during the 1980s under right wing governments of Ronald Reagan in the US and Margret Thatcher in the UK. During their time in power both leaders deregulated the market and put strong support behind entrepreneurship and free enterprise. The communication sector specifically saw a boom. This boom is to a point now in the modern world where IPhones are built in China yet the majority are sold in 1st world nations. It is with these globalised states that are electronically advanced that further push a sense of modern colonialism.

The relationship between colonialism and globalisation can be explored further through the elements of globalised culture. Western culture being the most notable with Mc Donald’s, MTV and Nike just to mention a few. This is largely thanks to international mass media. Notably the most globalised states are the majority consumers of media technologies such as internet and satellite television. Furthermore, a steady flow ideologies and transnational images connect to audiences throughout the entire globe. Without this, nations such as Argentina, Thailand and Chile would not be able to amerce themselves in Western culture like rock music, Coca-Cola and Reebok shoes. The bias in favour of industrialised states can be seen further in the flow of news. With most media flows being exported by western countries and imported by developing countries. These developing nations receive prejudicial and little coverage in Western media. It is these elements of globalised culture which put further impact on modern colonialism and electronic colonialism.

This legacy that Colonialism has left behind can be seen throughout different forms of media in our globalised world. As an example, one must look at Hollywood cinema and its global triumph. Many scholars argue that the American cultural reign is the direct result of global capitalism. With Hollywood films becoming a cultural product which asserts a hegemonic culture, one which helps colonise the global audience. This directly hurts other cultures and the awareness of alternate ways of life through its dominance. Thus, creating a sense of cultural imperialism. It is this globalised culture that is making the world more homogenous, with so many variables such as commercial, economic, technological and cultural originating from the West, especially America. This modern globalised world has never been more homogenised. Through these one-directional processes, America’s love of capitalism and cultural dominance, the world now has theories such as ‘Americanisation’ or ‘Westernisation’.

This cultural imperialism is clearly evident in the blockbuster film ‘Independence Day’. The film has strong ideological power with the United States leading the world in the fight against an alien invasion. Globally it was one of the highest grossing films of all time. Its patriotic theme had such an influence that 1996 Republican presidential candidate senator Bob Dole saw a rise in polls and even used quotes from the film throughout his campaign. It is this kind of global media that continues to form the new sense of colonialism through these reminders of America’s military strength and power.

Another prime example is the film ‘Three Kings’ released in 1999. The film is based in Iraq in the immediate turmoil of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The film pushes strong themes extremely close to modern day propaganda, such as Iraqis shooting women, gas attacks and torturing techniques. The film goes further by giving a highly generalised portrayal of all Iraqi characters and showing the American soldiers as liberal strong men fighting for freedom. It is these reinforcements of nationalistic ideologies throughout global media that strengthen American Imperialism. Three Kings overall left audiences with the feeling of American Imperialism to be praised rather than critiqued. This modern day colonialism became further evident with the unjustified Iraq invasion which followed just 4 years (2003) after Three Kings’ release.

The earth is becoming more globalised as each day goes on and yet the legacy of colonialism is still evident. Whether it be capitalism, cultural imperialism, electronic colonialism or global media, the formerly colonised states are advancing further ahead in this process of globalisation. This trend is progressing much faster than other uncolonised states. It is this dominance of the west through trade, military power and global culture that is creating a modern form of colonialism. So much so that it could be understood that Globalisation is just a new form of Colonialism.

Aidan Green.