Colonization is an act of establishing contact, either by force or by law, with a foreign state or population. The practice can also include the taking of control over the country or region through political or military means. Since it involves the taking possession of another nation’s resources, and people, the effects of colonizers can range from advantageous to harmful. Even when colonies were considered advantageous during earlier periods, they can now be viewed as a source of controversy.
Can the effects of colonization of third world countries be described as positive or negative? Many scholars who have reviewed the effects of colonization note that, while there has been some improvement in terms of material health and education, many other aspects of Third World living are still poorly served. For this reason, some have suggested that the effects of colonization can be considered as either harmful or neutral.
For those who support the view that the results of colonizers can be described as beneficial, a major benefit resulting from colonizing the Third World would be political stability. In today’s interconnected world, many regions are experiencing periods of high instability. By taking control of resources and territory, colonizers allow their governments to maintain peace. With free association and trade, Third World countries can become better able to compete with first world countries for economic and technological advancement.
For those who believe that the effects of colonization are bad, there are a number of reasons why it would be a loss. First, many immigrants would be unable to integrate into the societies of their host countries. Secondly, many would attempt to form permanent residence in order to escape the political and environmental restraints they feel are preventing them from attaining higher levels of development. Lastly, other societal changes would have to happen, especially in terms of political representation, gender roles, educational opportunities, and health conditions.
Critics of colonizers often point out that Third World countries lack capital for advanced infrastructure. Without advanced education, without access to clean water, and without modern health care, the quality of life of the majority of Third World people would decline. Some fear that, given their lower living standards, they will embrace political corruption that would undermine their commitment to democracy and free societies. Others worry that, given the demographics of the future, hundreds of millions of people of color may be forced to live in overcrowded slums, and their lives will be tarnished by disease. Many others worry that, given the low productivity of their labor, they will be unable to compete with the richer nations.
Proponents of colonizers point out that Third World countries have often had more resource wars than have first world countries. They say that, given the fact that there is no major international currency, and that currency has little effect on local business, trade, and investment, they have little to lose. By building infrastructure, upgrading healthcare, improving educational opportunities, and promoting economic growth, they argue, these programs will create greater prosperity for the majority of their citizens.
Opponents of colonizers argue that, because these societies lack advanced technology, basic infrastructure, and life-saving resources, these societies would fail to develop quickly, even under ideal circumstances. They point out that, given current trends, it is not likely that any of the former Third World countries will emerge as developing economies within a decade, let alone the remaining developed economies within the next fifty years. Moreover, they point out that there is some evidence that these new societies have a lower per capita average income than the countries they have colonized. Even those countries that have not yet fallen behind technologically in basic necessities are not doing well in terms of per capita income. Given these circumstances, they argue, it is not realistic to expect that colonizers will be able to develop a fully developed society in a short time, let alone an economically, socially, and culturally advanced society.
Proponents of colonizers argue that, given the kinds of life that people in the third world have experienced, to characterize the effects of colonization of third world countries as harmful or positive is irrational. To begin with, these societies have been subjected to centuries of European, Asian, and American colonization and removal. For many of their indigenous people, this experience was traumatic, and their descendants are today enduring what some call the original sin of slavery. Also, there is nothing to suggest that the cultures or societies of the third world will not continue to change. It is also important to note that, while it is possible to build a highly successful society from below based upon the labor of indigenous people, it is also possible to develop a highly successful society based upon the labor of Western Europeans, Asians, and Americans. It is this second possibility that has been neglected by the proponents of colonizers and, as a result, they have been unable to answer the question, can the effects of colonization of third world countries be described as negative or positive.