Compare and contrast settler colonialism with economic imperialism from 1750 to 1900.

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"Facts on the ground" is a common term used in diplomacy to describe a political situation as it exists physically in reality, as opposed to the abstract narratives politicians devise from afar. The mission of settler colonialism is, in essence, to create these so-called "facts on the ground" by moving people to places where a nationality desires more control. History has shown this strategy time and again: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the white immigrant populations moving to Texas during the Mexican-American war, Putin's movement of Russians to Crimea. In each case, the power encouraging movement does so in order to increase political sway over that region and to advance the vague diplomatic claim "I want that" to the more persuasive claim of "this is a human rights issue because my citizens live there." From the outset, settler colonialism intends expansion of power through physical occupation.

Economic imperialism, by contrast, remains a little more nebulous. Its mission often begins not with intent to expand territory (as was the case with the East India Trading Company) but to obtain resources from a region. It does so through financial capital, exploitation of the local communities for labor, and the importing of goods obtained. Whereas settler colonialism necessarily displaces or eradicates local populations, economic imperialism leaves the local populations in place and exploits them. This is why, as observed before, places that have experienced economic imperialism are left destitute and unstable, because their means of production and infrastructure have been co-opted.

The effects of these methods can be seen in the years 1750 to 1900 most clearly in the British Empire, though the British were not the sole purveyors. The Dutch were a considerable match for British economic imperialism during this period.

Why it was that Britain chose settler colonialism over economic imperialism in the Americas is perhaps a matter of geography. Whereas in East India and Africa trading routes were already in existence, and the wealth of woven textiles, raw silk, dyes, and opium could be secured through economic means, the distance to the New World demanded that colonies be set in place, local economies erected, and shipping routes established. If Britain was to gain from the riches North America had to offer, it needed its thirteen colonies.

Where the British had seen the vast amounts of wealth accumulated by the French and Spanish during the Age of Discovery, it also saw their decline and sought to follow in their footsteps in the Americas with a more lasting approach. The separation of geography, however, turned out to be a blessing and a curse; it would also contribute to the success of the American Revolution and the subsequent independence of the colonies.

Both settler colonialism and economic imperialism are detrimental to local populations, neither of which can be easily understated. It is sometimes easy to forget the damage caused by settler colonialism when compared to economic imperialism, though, and that is because the latter leaves impoverished populations behind as evidence, whereas the former too often takes the form of genocide.

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Settler colonialism is the practice of establishing colonies in other countries with settlers---people who plan to live there indefinitely and establish a new society. At its best, settler colonialism is just a form of large-scale immigration. At its worst, it can overlap heavily with imperialism and attempts to force out local populations, or even lead to genocide.

Economic imperialism is the use of economic institutions, particularly multinational corporations, as instruments for conquering and colonizing other countries.

For the period 1750 to 1900 in particular, the British Empire was a particularly prominent example of both types of colonialism, and it's worthwhile to compare the outcomes in each case.

Emigration from Britain to the United States was largely settler colonialism: British citizens who wanted to build a new life away from Britain set up colonies in North America that would eventually become the United States and Canada. By the period in question, the east coast of the US was already largely settled, and new colonization was spreading westward to fill the continent. Once the United States officially became its own country in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, we could consider the settlers spreading out west to be American settlers rather than British settlers, though the harmful effect on indigenous Native American populations was largely the same. Warfare and forced resettlement killed hundreds of thousands of natives. Disease killed almost 100 million.

Meanwhile, the British Empire was also engaging in economic imperialism in India and Africa, where private corporations like the East India Company and East Africa Company actually held large territories---many larger than Great Britain itself!---and ruled over them as if they were countries themselves. But these were a particularly terrible kind of country, ruthless dictatorships operated on an entirely for-profit basis that functioned primarily to extract natural resources and sell them far away in Europe. Imagine if Exxon or Walmart ruled an entire country, and you may have some sense of what life was like under the East India Company.

Eventually these multinational corporations grew so powerful that the British Crown decided they could not tolerate it anymore, and broke them up in order to make the colonies into official British territories. A few decades after that, most of them became independent countries.

In both cases, a wealthy and powerful country exploits other, poorer countries. In both cases, indigenous populations suffer and many die. However, the starkly different effects of settler colonialism on the one hand versus economic imperialism can still be seen to this day. Countries that were colonized by British settlers are now among the most prosperous countries in the world today: The US, Canada, Australia. Countries that had economic imperialism imposed upon them by the British Empire are now among the poorest countries in the world today: India, Kenya, Zimbabwe. Settler colonialism can have a happy ending---economic imperialism almost never does.

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