Integration, Dependency, and Responsibility
The economic philosophy of colonialism has contributed to the present economic instability of the continent of Africa. Assigned third-world economy status, dependent upon the world market, and caught amid social and political wars, Africa has not adapted well to the changes thrust upon it by colonial rule. But while historical events have played a significant role in condemning Africa to poverty and underdevelopment, African leaders themselves have also failed to own up to their leadership responsibilities.
A factor contributing to Africa's inability to manage itself effectively is the colonial economic system, which has been thrust prematurely upon Africa, and which has relegated the African economies to a peripheral third-world status within the world economy. The most notable legacy of colonialism has been the integration of socialist-type colonies into the global capitalist economy. The main force keeping economies in the global system and sustaining imperialism is the market itself. For the wealthy in Africa, the market is a wonderful benefit, offering goods that Africa does not manufacture. The world market enables African elites to consume products of western civilization without having to initiate the difficult and long-term process of constructing the productive base of their societies. It is easier, and makes more short-term sense, to embrace the global market than to try to build industries from the ground up. Unfortunately, the virtual non-existence of an indigenous manufacturing industry renders Africa dependent on and vulnerable to the changing world market. The economy's reliance on the world market is an important economic effect of colonialism, as are the new social and demographic changes effected by Africa's incorporation into the global economy.
The introduction of an organized commercial economy has largely replaced Af