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Imperialism is the acquisition and maintenance of empires, through direct territorial control or through indirect methods of exerting control on the politics and/or economy of other countries. The term is used by some to describe the policy of a country in maintaining colonies and dominance over distant lands, regardless of whether the country calls itself an empire.

The study of Empires and Imperialism necessarily must go beyond the beliefs of its main actors, though an understanding of the beliefs contributes to understanding the wider "-ism" of Imperialism.
— Petros Evdokas

Imperialists normally hold the belief that the acquisition and maintenance of empires is a positive good, combined with an assumption of cultural or other such superiority inherent to the imperial power. Subjects of imperial and post-imperial governments and those sympathetic to them have often considered imperialism to be an exploitive evil, a view often shared by factions of the citizens of the imperialistic state.

Table of contents
1 Etymology
2 See also
3 External link


The term imperialism was a new word in the mid-19th century. According to the OED, it dates back to 1858, to describe Pax Britannica. However its intellectual roots can certainly be traced as far back as Dante, who in his Monarchia depicted a world with a single political focus and governed by rationalism. Dante was very influential on John Dee, who coined the term British Empire in the late 16th century. Dee was instrumental in creating the intellectual and scientific environment whereby English seafarers such as Humphrey Gilbert, Martin Frobisher and Walter Raleigh could set the groundwork for a maritime empire.

According to the OED, in 19th century England, imperialism, was generally used only to describe English policies. However, soon after the invention of the term, imperialism was used in retrospect about the policies of the Roman Empire.

In the 20th century, the term has been used to describe the policies of both the Soviet Union and the United States, although these differed greatly from each other and from 19th-century imperialism. Furthermore, the term has been expanded to apply, in general, to any historical instance of the aggrandizement of a greater power at the expense of a lesser power.

Since the end of World War II and particularly following the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, claims of imperialism have almost exclusively been levelled at the sole-remaining superpower, the United States.

See also

External link