Colonialism is a term coined in the 20th Century to define the phenomenon of three distinct processes of exploration/colonization, revolution and imperialism. It is not a recent doctrine as its roots can be traced back to ancient Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans. However modern colonialism can be traced to European desire to conquer the world and expand their empires and obtain raw materials to meet the industrial revolution as well as find new markets for the finished goods that the revolution was churning. Thus colonialism is the forcible imposition of foreign rule on a territory. Thus colonization is morally objectionable because it infringes on the basic human rights to freedom and self-governance
The forcible nature of colonialism requires that the colonizing power use violent force or subjugation techniques that may include extermination or enslavement of the indigenous populations such as in Africa and parts of Asia. In her book, Britain’s Gulag, Caroline Elkins outlines how more than 200,000 indigenous Africans were massacred by the British colonialists and 1.5 million forced into labor camps reminiscent of the Nazi labor camps for resisting their rule. The Europeans first came to the continent as explorers and missionaries but the abundant wealth of raw materials foresaw the scramble and partition for mineral rich nations in the Berlin Conference of 1886.
The colonizing process often included civilizing the natives against their will and imposing taxes to ensure that they participated in the money economy by engaging in forced labor.This imperialistic view that the colonizing powers’ cultures were better led to the abolishment of native cultures and hence revolutionized their way of life. Often the colonizing powers deemed themselves superior and introduced racist and essentialist doctrines like apartheid in South Africa. Thus the colonized natives became second class citizens in their own lands and any resistance was met with deadly force.
Thus the imposition of foreign rule on any territory is morally objectionable since basic human rights of freedom and right to self-governance are infringed upon. The minority colonizing powers have to employ brutal means in order to control the natives who usually outnumber them.
Elkins, Caroline. Britain’s Gulag: The brutal end of empire in Kenya. 2005