How can Vladimir Lenin's theory of imperialism and Andre Gunder Frank's theory of dependency be applied to a real-world country? Andre Gunder Frank Andre Gunder Frank

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In his theory of imperialism, Vladimir Lenin postulated that imperialism is the final, obligatory stage in capitalism. Imperialism ran rampant during the 19th century and was the primary cause of World War I. Lenin saw that an underlying reason for the growth of imperialism was the fact that a capitalist society would naturally run out of room for economic growth in its home country because the capacity to continue to grow would eventually surpass demand. Yet, the capitalistic drive for increased profits would also naturally continue to grow. In addition, the high cost of raw materials would threaten to lower profits, which a capitalist society certainly wouldn't want. As a result of needing both new markets for economic growth and cheaper raw materials, capitalist societies would naturally turn to underdeveloped economies in order to create brand new import-export markets, leading economic superpowers to colonize underdeveloped economies. However, the economic superpowers would only import enough capital to sustain the colony while exploiting those colonized for both their cheap labor and their cheap raw materials. By controlling the labor and raw materials of the colonized, the superpowers monopolize the human resource and raw material markets (New World Encyclopedia, "Imperialism: Lenin's Theory of Imperialism").

There are still quite a number of territories/colonies that belong to their mother countries. In fact, many of the territories remaining today have declared that they want to remain under the control of their mother countries though some of these territories are also self-governing. Both Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands are examples of mostly self-governing British colonies that have declared they still want to remain under Britain. A second example is that the territory of Tokelau has declared it wants to remain under New Zealand control. However, since society has already been well aware of the detrimental effects of colonialism, it is also true that the mother countries of these territories have declared they are devoted to helping the territories develop and to benefiting the people of the territories. Hence, since colonialism is widely, though not completely, dead, it may actually be easiest to apply Lenin's theory of imperialism to countries that, though now free, are still suffering under the long-lasting, detrimental effects of colonialism.

One of those such countries is Haiti that had belonged to France until 1803. France had also enslaved its inhabitants, and its inhabitants are still sealing from the impoverishing effects of slavery. As Tracy Kidder phrases it, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, Haitians' "new masters [are] poverty, illiteracy, and lack of economic opportunity" (p. 13). What's more superpowers own assembly plants in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, but the wealth earned by the superpowers does not trickle down to the Haitians. Instead, Haitians work in the plants for a fraction of what they would be earning if they were working similar jobs in the superpower countries. In addition, as Kidder further reports, the notorious Péligre Dam, funded by the US, was built by the Army Corps of Engineer to generate inexpensive electricity for the assembly plants. But, while the assembly plants gain electricity, the dam floods the most fertile farmland in the region, stripping Haitians of a prosperous agricultural industry (p. 41). Hence, superpowers are benefiting by exploiting Haiti for its cheap labor, cheap electricity, and other cheap resources, all at the cost of degrading Haitians.

Therefore, as we see, even though colonization is a dead practice, those who were colonized, in accordance with Lenin's theory of imperialism, are still being exploited and still suffering from the effects of having been exploited.

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