{Empty title} | The Nation

One of my favorite movie is Burn with Marlon Brando, who plays a British agent trying to bring a Portuguese Caribbean Island under the economic control of Great Britain. In one scene, set in a brothel, he convinces wealthy plantation owners to give up slavery. He remarked that when you get married you are obliged to take care of your wife for the rest of her life. But with a prostitute, you are only purchasing her services for a short time. The point being that owning a slave required a long-term commitment. But with "free" labor, there was no long-term commitment.

This analogy can be used to explain the difference between overt imperialism, which involves the direct political control of a colony, and economic imperialism, in which a developed country seeks economic control of another country. Political control involves, to some degree, responsibility for controlling that country, but economic imperialism is making use of that country's natural resources or agricultural products without the responsibility of governance. The developed country bribes and uses the elites of that country to govern for the benefit of foreign business interests. When foreign business interests are threatened, a coup is arranged to protect those foreign interests.

For example, when land reform threatened the investments of United Fruit in Guatemala, a CIA coup was arranged to bring to power a regime that supported the interest of that company.

In modern times, economic imperialism is favored because, in theory, the subject country has the illusion of controlling their own country, but the developed country is not burdened with governance. Profit without responsibility!

However, we now have a new twist in which all countries are underdeveloped by "free trade," and multinational big business can reduce every country to wage slavery by breaking down borders, and force workers in "formally" developed countries to compete for jobs with low-wage workers.

Everyone becomes a wage slave without benefits.