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Kwame Nkrumah (pictured on a Soviet postage stamp) is a Ghanaian politician who coined the term "Neo-colonialism."

Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalisation and cultural imperialism to influence a developing country instead of the previous colonial methods of direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony). The term was first used by Kwame Nkrumah in the context of African countries undergoing decolonisation in the 1960s.


  • Moreoever, we understand that the solution of the main problems we now face—peace, security, and development—lies not in the formation of closed international clubs, but in the participation of all the peoples of the world in the decisions that affect them all. A harmonious situation cannot be founded on the dissension of most of the inhabitants of the world. Our people are aware that their poverty produces wealth for others. The accumulated resentment against political colonialism is now reborn against economic colonialism. Colonial attitudes that should have disppeared still try to control international relations. The centers of world influence impose their conditions for exchange on the other countries. Moreover, they reduce the capacity of action of weak nations by opposing indispensable transformation of structures or by intervening in the political processes of these nations. The history of underdeveloped nations is a permanent struggle between the forces that seek social change and those that try to perpetuate injustice. The latter almost always have the support of powerful foreign groups that try to impose inadequate systems on countries whose true reality they ignore.
    • Luis Echeverría, June 15, 1972, as quoted in Historic Documents of 1972. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
  • Khe Sanh, one of the major battles in the Vietnam War, was just one little piece of a huge malignant disaster in a war that was criminal from its inception, and that had no purpose beyond perpetuating the neocolonialist control by the US of a long-subjugated people who were fighting to be free, just as our own ancestors had done.
  • The methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.

    Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.

    • Kwame Nkrumah, "The mechanisms of neo-colonialism," Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965)
  • A state can be said to be a neo-colonialist or client state if it is independent de jure and dependent de facto. It is a state where political power lies in the conservative forces of the former colony and where economic power remains under the control of international finance capital.
    • Kwame Nkrumah, "Sham independence," Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968), p. 8
  • The three essential components of neo-colonialism are:
    1. Economic exploitation
    2. Puppet governments and client states
    3. Military assistance
    4. Economic "aid."

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