Describe the different Stages of Colonialism.


Colonialism has generally three different stages. However, some countries went only one or two stages of colonialism only as it was in the case of India, Egypt and Indonesia. Almost two century has the history for these three stages of colonialism. With the change in the policy, institutions, culture, ideas and ideologies the nature of subordination changed. However these stages not clearly differentiated with each other but overlapped with each other:

The stages were the result of four factors:
  • The historical development of capitalism as a world system.
  • The change in the society, economy and polity of the metropolis.
  • The change in its position in the world economy and lastly.
  • The colony’s own historical development.

First Stage: Monopoly Trade and Plunder.

This stage had two basic objectives. In this stage monopoly of the trade was main goal for the traders. Import of indigenously manufactured goods was the main trend for the trade’s profits and all kind of competitor kept out. For this dual policy was used for the abolition of local traders they used invasion while for Europeans they used the military defeat.

Later political take over of the colony enabled them to steal the wealth of colony. Drain of wealth was the main feature of this stage as was in the case of India. It amounted to two to three percent of the national income of Britain at that time. In this stage no basic changes in the societal structure was made only domination over economy and polity was present.

Second Stage: Era of Free Trade

In this stage, colonies were mainly used for the supplier of raw materials so that they can manufactured the goods in their factories. Industrial bourgeoisie of the metropolis saw the colony as a market for their manufactured goods. They tried to increase the exports from the colony so that they can make balance in payments and also to make more profits.

In this stage, industrial bourgeoisie opposed the drain of wealth because it was against eat his business interest. Actually they want this profit for longer period and in continuation. Trading was the main roots for business. It is also important that in this stage changes in the economy, polity, administration, social cultural and ideological structure were initiated to enable exploitation in the new way.

And it all happened in the name of development and modernization. The colony was now integrated to the world economy and its isolation from the world had been started abolishing. Investments from the capitalist in different sectors were allowed.

Transport and communication has been developed for the better way exploitation of local raw materials. Ports were developed for the export. In this stage liberal imperialism got the attention due to the integration with the greater world. Also the concept of self-government introduced and for this purpose education and administration has been developed.

Third Stage: Era of Finance Capital

This stage was critical because it was the stage of struggle where the search for the raw materials and food grains and also the markets for the produced goods were seen. Investments became the major economic trends in this stage. And the new investments were only possible in the colonies and to protect the interest of investors the control over colonies increased. In this stage the thinking about protectionism increased because new kind of autocracy started prevailing in this stage.

On the other the colonies did not respond according to these investments from the metropolis. Actually in the early stage it was over exploitation of raw materials so there was scarcity of raw materials emerged. In this stage they again changed the policy for modernization now it was limited modernization and tried to them underdeveloped but this policy of limited modernization become a constraint for the colonizers.

However, this stage dip not take off because colonialism has already broken the economies of colonies and it was not possible to make the investment and gain profit from them. So that the earlier two stages were very common in traditional and older colonies as it was the case in India.

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