Understanding Imperialism and Colonialism: Background and Impact

Understanding Imperialism and Colonialism – Around hundreds to thousands of years ago, there were many countries that colonized other countries. The purpose of the colonial state is very clear, that is to control and even expand its territory. Many colonial countries continue to seize their resources, both natural and human resources. So, the colonial state became stronger by controlling strategic places from a region.

The beginning arose from the desire to dominate other regions at the time of the fall of Constantinople. Constantinople was a strategic location for trade and the Ottoman Turks wanted to conquer it. In the end, merchants and buyers could no longer enter the city. Ottoman Turkey is a name for the rulers and military of the Turkish sultanate, while Constantinople is the capital of the Roman Empire and is the largest and even the most prosperous city in Europe.

After the fall of Constantinople, the European nation became no longer able to meet the commodities of spices, even though at that time the price of spices was very high in Europe. Then the European nation also saw Indonesia, because with the existence of Indonesia as a country that produces the best spices, it was heard by the European nation. Until then, the country of Indonesia became a place for Europeans to buy spices and to meet their needs.

In addition to the country of Indonesia having many of the best and abundant spices, the people are also friendly and very good at welcoming Europeans who come. Because of that, there were a lot of fleets belonging to European nations that stopped in Indonesia. This incident will be very closely related to the explanation of the meaning of colonialism and imperialism.

Understanding Colonialism and Western Imperialism

1. The meaning of colonialism

Colonialism is derived from the word Colony, colony according to Latin is a settlement. An effort made by the ruling countries in order to dominate an area or region in order to obtain resources is called colonialism.

Colonialism is generally done by countries that have strong military power. Examples are Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Those countries have managed to dominate other countries which include Indonesia.

2. Understanding of Imperialism

Further, for Imperialism itself is a term derived from the word “imperator” which means to rule. So, Imperialism is a system in the political world that aims to dominate other countries while gaining power and profit from the countries it controls. Imperialism itself has been around since the 19th century, initially sparked by Benjamin Disraeli who was the British Prime Minister at the time.

Imperialism itself is actually divided into 2, based on time and purpose, namely:

Imperialism based on time:

  • Ancient imperialism, which has emerged before the industrial revolution in England motivated by 3G, namely Gold, Glory, and Gospel.
  • Modern imperialism, emerged after the industrial revolution. Happened due to economic factors and industrial needs at that time.

Imperialism based on purpose:

  • Political imperialism, to be able to dominate the entire political life of a country
  • Economic imperialism, to dominate the economic sector of other countries
  • Cultural imperialism, to be able to dominate the values ​​of a country’s culture
  • Military imperialism, to dominate other countries because it is considered to have strategic and strong territories that can strengthen a defense

Background of Colonialism and Imperialism in Indonesia

Colonialism and imperialism have long been carried out by the European nation even since the 15th century all over the world, until it finally entered the archipelago. At that time, the background of Europeans entering the archipelago had several reasons, such as the fall of Constantinople in the Mediterranean by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the decline of the economy and even European trade until the industrial revolution.

It should be known that colonialism and modern imperialism emerged after the industrial revolution with the aim of being able to develop the European economy. The industrial revolution that made the European nation make a ship that it used to explore the ocean in search of resources in other countries. In addition to that, the mission was also done to live the spirit of the Crusades.

Until in that effort, the European nation that began to spread throughout the world, in the end colonialism and imperialism in Indonesia also happened. On the other hand, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, which caused the access of Europeans to get cheaper spices in the Mediterranean Sea became closed and thus made the price of spices in Europe increase sharply. Europeans who were then encouraged to search for and eventually found regions that produced spices to a new region in eastern Europe.

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So that in the end they are more and more ambitious to dominate various countries in order to seize their economic profits as well as their political success, especially in regions such as the Indonesian environment which is the location of the production of spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and others. The spices produced in the country of Indonesia eventually encouraged them to be able to do colonialism and imperialism because spices at that time became a very popular commodity in Europe. Europeans who later referred to the archipelago as India.


List of Countries that Implemented Colonialism and Imperialism in the Past

List of Countries Practicing Imperialism

1. Spain

It can be mentioned that Spain became the first European nation along with Portugal to open trade routes to India. Spain will dominate the territory of the Philippines, Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, and many more.

2. English

The focus of British power was on India and the east coast of North America. After the year 1800, England began to dominate many countries until it became the largest empire in the world. Just mention Australia, Malaya, Egypt, and others.

3. The Netherlands

Compared to the territory of other European countries, the Netherlands is a country that has a relatively small source of military power. Although the Dutch state does not want to divide its government with the local community, its position is very strong. Until now the Dutch control the East Indies, South Africa, Suriname, and Guyana.

List of Countries Practicing Imperialism

1. Soviet Union

Many of the countries in Eastern Europe have been successfully controlled by them after the victory of World War II. The country also formed a subordinate state to counter the western bloc and joined the Warsaw Pact.

2. The Japanese Empire

Looking at the number of territories that have been successfully conquered by the Japanese Empire in World War II provides evidence that Japan’s power is very great. This country also created a Manchukuo puppet to claim that the Chinese plain is its own.

3. French Republic

During the revolution, France waged war on European monarchies. This country also managed to conquer the Netherlands. In addition, the Rhine Plain region and Spain have a puppet state that is under the rule of the French empire.


The impact of the development of colonialism and imperialism in Indonesia

The arrival of Westerners to Indonesia has brought many changes to the lives of its people. There are many remnants of the West that exist to this day, as an example of education.

The development of education in Indonesia itself has been there since the West entered. In addition to education, there are still many other influences from the arrival of western nations into Indonesia in terms of politics, social, economy, and even culture.

1. Political-Government Field

The arrival from the West itself provided a change in the political system of government. With the government system that was initially the government system slowly changed to become like the western system. This can be seen from the reign of Governor General Daendels who divided Dutch power in Java into 9 provinces and 30 regencies.

The head of government from each province is called a prefect. Each regency and regency is led by a Regent who is appointed from among the natives. This regent himself is still there to this day.

In the Regency government itself, in addition to the Regent is also assisted by a patih. Each region of the Regency is divided into districts, which are led by a Wedana.

Then this district was further divided into Onderdistrik led by assistant wedana, which until now is called subdistrict. Then there are villages.

Continuing Daendels was then appointed a Governor named General Raffles. During his reign, Java was divided into 16 Residents, each of which was led by a Resident and assisted by Resident assistants. A system that has been brought since the time of Daendels will continue to experience development and improvement. During the Dutch colonial period, this Raffles system was improved again, which united all the Dutch powers in 1905 called the Pax Neerlandica.

2. Economic field

In addition to reforming the political sphere of government, the Netherlands also made changes to the traditional economic system. The lands that originally belonged to the kings were later transferred to the government. This is of course very much in line with the early principles of the Netherlands which wanted to accumulate wealth.

The government that applies the tax system and the price from the sale of farmers’ land has also been determined by the colonial rulers. By carrying out the transfer of land ownership, the government is free to do anything with the land, including renting it out to the private sector. So that the government can get additional taxes from the private sector to be able to continue filling the government coffers.

In 1828, from within the banking system that had begun to enter Indonesia. The first bank was De Javasche Bank. So that the economic system of money will also grow more and more. The Dutch government also built port centers for the benefit of trade.

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In addition to that, plantations will also continue to grow, which for the crops are also very abundant. In order to facilitate the transportation of crops, the Netherlands created a railway line. This railway line was also made to be able to develop the transportation system, as well as connect it to the port.

So with the availability of facilities and infrastructure that can be very helpful, the Dutch economy in Indonesia is also growing rapidly. The revenue that can be achieved by the government is increasingly filling the Dutch coffers.

However, from the changes in the system, it can also be beneficial for the Indonesian nation. The results of the expansion can even be seen and used to this day, such as trains, highways, ports, banking systems, and the money system.

3. Social-Cultural Field

The arrival of Europeans themselves to Indonesia will also influence the cultural field. Some of these influences are for example in architecture, the way of dressing, music, and even others. However, due to the influence of the West, it was certainly not accepted easily by the people, and was adapted back to the local culture. So that in the end a new culture emerges.

In the society of the indigenous community itself, during the period of Western domination, it has always been a group that is at the bottom. So, the natives must submit and obey the West.

The West itself sees white people as the highest group in the social caste. Foreign Orientals are the second group. While the natives are a third or lowest group. This was done again to instill a thought among the indigenous people, that they are not better than Westerners.

So that in the end they have to submit, cannot fight against the West. That thought is deliberately indoctrinated into the community, so that they will not rebel. In addition to the negative impact, the West also brought Christianity into Indonesia. So as to increase religious diversity in Indonesia.

In the community’s own culture, their lifestyle is increasingly shifting, especially the upper class natives. Western style has begun to influence the lifestyle of the community, for example in the style of clothing. The change in dress style is not only to improve the social strata in the community, but it is done for the sake of employment.

Indigenous women began to get to know the use of dresses in parties, lace dresses, and sleepwear. As for the men themselves, they started to get used to wearing suits at parties and in doing their jobs.

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4. Field of Education

With the entry of western nations into Indonesia, education is growing in a more advanced direction. It cannot be separated from the existence of reciprocation politics or Ethical Politics carried out by the West, especially with the Dutch Colonial Government. This system appeared as a form of protest from the Dutch liberals who wanted to criticize the Dutch Colonial Government which had been judged to oppress the people.

With the spread of the situation of the oppressed Indonesian people, it will not be separated from the figures, one of whom is named Multatuli, who has created a book about the state of society at that time, entitled Max Havelaar. In addition, there is also an article about “Debt of Honor” with Van Deventer that has been published in the Dutch magazine, de Gids. In the writing it is written that the Dutch owe the Indonesian nation for all the wealth they have obtained, so it needs to be paid back for the well-being of the natives.

Van Deventer’s thinking was eventually known as ethische politiek or Ethical Politics, which focused on three things, namely population transfer, education, and irrigation. So in 1901, Queen Wilhelmina informed about welfare research in Java and that policy was confirmed.

Education in Ethical Politics

Since ethical politics was applied in Indonesia, the influence that became very large was in the field of education. At the beginning this education was used to produce government workforce and only for Dutch citizens and nobles, but eventually people’s schools are also growing.

These schools are named Europese Lagere School (ELS), Hoogere Burgerlijk School (HBS), STOVIA or medical school, and so on. For the natives, there is a First Class school that is reserved for the upper classes. As for the people, a Second Class school (Ongko Loro School) is provided.

With the development of the field of education among the natives, it also evokes the emergence of a sense of national consciousness to be able to carry out the liberation of the country. The emergence of an educated group among the youth.

Most of these activists are from schools in STOVIA or the Javanese Doctor’s School. With the expansion of education and the emergence of educated young people, their sense of nationalism is also spreading among the Indonesian nation.

So in the end there was also a national awareness that grew with the Youth Pledge held on October 28, 1928. With the emergence of the national movement organizations. From that moment on, in the struggle for independence of the Indonesian Nation, it is not only to be achieved through physical means, but can be achieved through organizational struggle and diplomacy in the international sphere.