Colonialism in the 21st Century: Russia, China and the United States

From the fifteenth century (discovery of America) to the twentieth century (World War II), colonialism depended on ownership, control of territory, of infrastructure and mineral extraction, through slave labor and, all according to specific private and state regulations.

Economically, the old colonialisms focused their efforts on maintaining and controlling the land in search of riches.

In the religious side, the job was taken by the Catholic Church, which dominated European politics, supporting the conquest of America to establish colonies, based on their religious beliefs.

Politically, at that time, the idea of dominating vast colonial territories was an important mean to show power. European nations colonized the territories that belonged to the Ottoman empire before its fall, to have influence over the area.

The same thing happened at the end of World War II, when England, France, Germany and Russia divided up the territories conquered by Hitler and Mussolini.

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In five centuries, the struggle for control over resources, markets and policies has been enormously destructive. Many millions of people have perished in wars and famines provoked or through genocide to crush popular rebellions.

At the end of the 20th century, colonialism was “privatized”, (although the idea was conceived in 1974 with the world oil crisis). Globalization allowed corporations to look for cheaper sources of productive labor, cheaper raw materials, new markets, new locations for production and new technological interventions in production and distribution.

Financial colonialism accompanied this “privatization”, providing the necessary credit to facilitate the growth and reorganization of corporations, increasing the concentration and centralization of capital.

Technology and colonialism

In the 21st century, territorial colonialism is decreasing, giving rise to technological colonialism using digital infrastructure, knowledge and computer control to maintain the same or worse level of dependency.

Production has been robotized, taking away value from territorial colonization or infrastructure, which was displaced by an advanced high-tech economy, based on services, added to this free trade agreements, which allowed nations to introduce cheap goods in global markets, such as food, textiles and manufactured goods.

Today there is great tension between the great powers, with a technological rivalry that has changed the colonial perspectives. In recent years the United States has stagnated compared to a China that relies on a competitive and capitalist government, plus the European Union that is about to implode. Added to this, a Russia dominated by a recalcitrant fascism, which has destabilized the world order.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is part of a backward colonialism, attempting land dominance with soldiers and tanks, facing the Ukrainian army that has the technological support of the West, with drones and information technology.

There is no doubt that Putin underestimated the cost. in human lives, economy and politics, to achieve semi-colonial control over a territory, which had already decided to integrate economically and culturally with Western Europe (under the umbrella of NATO, the EU and the US).

In reality, Putin has given Biden a geostrategic gift, creating a great dilemma for other countries who on one hand condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and on the other, the expansion and intensification of NATO militarism.


  • Cesar Leo Marcus

    Cesar Leo Marcus was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Doctor (PhD) in International Logistics and Foreign Trade, and Master (MBA) in Economic Sociology, he was professor of both chairs at the Universities of Madrid (Spain) and Cordoba (Argentina). A journalist, he publishes in newspapers in California, Miami, and New York. He is a writer, he published twelve books, and a literary editor, director of Windmills Editions. He currently resides in California.

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