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Ethan Flores
Ethan Flores

Are Facebook And Google The New Colonial Powers

More broadly, digital colonialism is about entrenching an unequal division of labor, where the dominant powers have used their ownership of digital infrastructure, knowledge, and their control of the means of computation to keep the South in a situation of permanent dependency. This unequal division of labor has evolved. Economically, manufacturing has moved down the hierarchy of value, displaced by an advanced high-tech economy in which the Big Tech firms are firmly in charge.

Are Facebook and Google the New Colonial Powers


The authors then superimpose the present-day borders on the pre-colonial map to determine which ethnic homelands were divided during the Scramble for Africa by the European powers. They find that 28% of all groups identified by Murdock saw their ancestral homelands split across different countries.

The news monopolies of former colonial powers continued into the 20th century. Some Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Mexico, developed their own strong newspapers that reported on local and national events, but they could not afford to send many correspondents abroad.

But the biggest, most remarkable thing in the map is the ebb and flow in the territory controlled by the big European powers. That reflects a few things. Wars between great powers themselves (say, World War I), colonial conquest (Britain in Australia), conflict between colonial powers (Britain and France in North America), and colonized people throwing out colonizers (the dramatic decline in African colonialism after World War II).

Why? Well, the central purpose of European colonialism was to benefit and enrich Europeans. Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson propose that created different incentives for European powers in richer and poorer colonized lands. In richer places, they built governments whose task was to steal wealth and resources and send them to Europe, shattering the foundations of local prosperity. In poorer places, they actually built European settler communities, protecting economically useful institutions like private property rights in order to make these communities do well. In both previously poor and previously rich places, these colonial institutions altered the trajectory of their development down to the present day.


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