Capitalism and colonialism are inseparable. Capitalism has been colonial, more precisely imperialist, during all the most notable periods of its development. The conquest of the Americas by the Spaniards and Portuguese in the 16th century, then by the French and the British, was the first modern form of imperialism and colonization: an extremely brutal form which resulted in the genocide of the Indians of North America, Indian societies in Latin America thrown into slavery and black slavery through the whole continent, north and south. Beyond this example, by following a logic of precise deployment through the different stages of its history, we can see that capitalism has constructed a consistent dichotomy of relations between a centre (the heart of the system of capitalist exploitation) and the periphery (made up of dominated countries and peoples).
The system of colonial exploitation has been based on unequal exchange, that is, the exchange of manufactured products, sold very expensively in the colonies by commercial monopolies supported by the State, for the purchase of products or primary products at very low prices, since they were based on labour that was almost without cost – provided by the peasants and workers located at the periphery. During all the stages of capitalism, the plunder of the resources of the peripheries, the oppression of colonized peoples, their direct or indirect exploitation by capital, remain the common characteristics of the phenomenon of colonialism.
The reality remains – in other words the hyper-exploitation and plunder of the South. In this respect, how are we to describe the WTO if not as the multinationals’ club for looting the Third World, a sort-of global Super-Ministry of the Colonies? Is it really an organization responsible for facilitating world trade, as it pretends to be, or an organization for defending the monopolies of the imperialist capitalist nations by providing excessive protection for so-called industrial and intellectual property rights, through setting up a false symmetry – opening up markets for the plunder of resources in the South without giving the South access to markets in the North? I call this apartheid on a world scale, the extension of colonialism into today’s world. (Samir Amin)