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). Coined by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in 1956, the term was first used by Kwame Nkrumah in the context of African countries undergoing decolonisation in the 1960s.
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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."
- Kwame Nkrumah, Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968), p. 15