Soviet Studies of Neocolonialism

The article reviews Soviet and East German studies of neocolonialism that have been translated into Russian. A total of more than 60 monographs on Western neocolonialism have been systematically studied and finally compiled into an electronic archive in preparation for this publication. Based on the materials of Soviet studies, the article presents the main features of Western neocolonialism, related both to political maneuvers and the economic arsenal of the former metropolitan powers. A detailed analysis of the narratives used by Western countries to emphasize their proximity to the “Third World” is given. Particular attention is paid to neocolonial theories, both “variants of well-known bourgeois and reformist concepts addressed to developing countries” and “concepts and theories specially created to support neocolonialism.” Neocolonial approaches were studied both in the context of individual Western countries and groups of states (Great Britain, France, Germany, the European Economic Community (EEC), USA) and by functional areas (technical assistance, food neocolonialism, international organizations). Regarding the UK, the differences in neocolonial policy between Labor Party and Conservatives are examined. The main instruments of France’s neocolonial policy are described and it is concluded that they have hardly changed in recent decades. The role of the FRG in the strategy of “European neocolonialism” is shown, and major characteristics of the neocolonial policy of the EEC are highlighted. With regard to the, authors speak of a new type of imperialist colonialism associated with American leadership in the institutions of the “collective West.” As for the United States, a new type of imperialist colonialism is being put forward, associated with America’s leadership in the institutions of the “collective West.” The origins and “running-in” of the US neocolonial tools are shown in detail, using the actual American colonial experience in the Philippines as an example. The main directions of critical analysis of the participation of Western countries in technical and food aid systems and in the activities of international organizations are presented. In conclusion, some remarks are formulated on the practical component of Soviet studies of neocolonialism. It is also stressed that in the mid-1980s, after the proclamation of the “New Political Thinking” the critical degree of Soviet studies of neocolonialism declined significantly.


At Peoples’ Friendship University, bearing the name of Patrice Lumumba in 1961—1992, traditionally much attention was paid to critical studies of Asian, African, and Latin American countries (Degterev, 2021). One of the leading Soviet experts on French neocolonialism was E. G. Korenchuk (1942—2007), head of the Department of Theory and History of Journalism.[1] The leading national bibliographer of P. Lumumba is RUDN Professor L.V. Ponomarenko (2010).

In February 2020, the 10th international scientific conference “Africa in the context of the formation of a new system of international relations” was held at RUDN University on the topic “Past, present and future of the African continent (on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Year of Africa)” with the participation of leading Western critical researchers of North — South relations: Y. Taylor, P. Carmody, P. Bond and others.[2] The materials of this conference are presented in a special issue of this journal “Decolonization, Neocolonialism, and Recolonization: On the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Year of Africa” (Carmody, 2020), as well as in the final monograph by a leading international publishing house (Vasiliev, Degterev & Shaw, 2021).

Two and a half years later, in September 2022, the Department of Theory and History of International Relations hosted a methodological workshop on “Soviet Studies of Neocolonialism,” the results of which are reassessed in this review publication with the same title. During the preparation for the event, an electronic archive of more than 60 monographs on the Western neocolonialism of the Soviet period was compiled.[3]    

At the workshop participants examined both the specifics of neocolonial policies of individual Western countries and organizations (UK, France, West Germany, the European Economic Community (EEC), the United States), as well as certain functional areas (technical assistance, food aid, international organizations, etc.). The same logic served the basis of this paper. Each author presented one aspect of the neocolonialism.[4] The paper aims to expand the limited list of contemporary works devoted to Soviet studies of neocolonialism (Sirotkina, 2020; Sirotkina & Alpidovskaya, 2020).

Features of Western Neocolonialism

Developing classical approaches to assessing neocolonialism (Nkrumah, 1965), Soviet researchers put special emphasis on political maneuvers (Modrzhinskaya & Fam N’e Kyong, 1984) and the economic arsenal of former metropolises (Zimenkov, 1985). As early as the stage of preparation for independence, specially trained “natives of reactionary circles,” as well as foreign advisers, began to be promoted to responsible positions in local administrations. The leading role of Western countries in organizing “reactionary plots” and coups d’état in a number of newly created states was stressed, as was the elimination of consistent fighters for national freedom.

On the other hand, in the spirit of A. Dulles’ doctrine of “intercepting the social revolution” formed in the 1960s, capitalist countries did not rule out the possibility of promoting a strong leader to stabilize the political regimes they liked. In a number of cases, the reactionary role of the army, acting as a “stronghold” of neocolonialism, was admitted (military coups in Iraq (1958), Yemen (1962), Brazil (1964), Peru (1968), Bolivia (1971), Ghana (1971), and Chile (1973)). A similar function was performed by some members of the state apparatus, representatives of the higher bureaucracy, and political parties (Kiva & Tarabrin, 1976, pp. 11—12).

The “divide and rule” formula was used by the former metropolises to foment inter-state conflicts in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as the Indo-Pakistani clashes in 1947—1948, 1965 and 1971 proved it. According to Soviet experts, bourgeois propaganda tolerated criticism of some Western states by liberated peoples, as long as it did not address the problems of the world system of capitalism as a whole (“collective West”) (Kiva & Tarabrin, 1976, p. 10). It is worth mentioning, that similar points can be observed with regard to the current criticism of French policies in the Sahel zone (Davidchuk, Degterev & Sidibe, 2022).

In the liberated countries, the discourse of “the erosion of traditional sovereignty in the modern era” was widespread, and the establishment of control over young states was ideologically conditioned by concepts of “interdependence” and “complementarity,” as well as other “neocolonialist formulas.” Soviet experts conducted a detailed analysis of the narratives of the Western countries, which the latter actively used to emphasize their closeness to the Third World. Thus, the former British colonies united in the Commonwealth of Nations, the French — in the Franco-African Community. The United States stressed that for the newly-free countries they were a “natural partner,” since they had once been a colony of the European powers, and in this logic advocated strengthening African-American relations “without mediation or interference by former metropolises” (Kiva & Tarabrin, 1976, p. 13).

Japan and Germany emphasized their commonality with the former colonies through their dependence on the former metropolis victors of World War II. At the same time, West Germany adhered to the following formula: “allies” — in foreign policy, “partners” — in economics, and “friends” — in culture. In turn, the Japanese underscored that they did not belong to the European race, like the Africans, and highlighted their “strong desire” to “free themselves from the dominance of the former colonizers.” Israel emphasized its status as a developing country, and through this, its “common destiny” with African countries (Kiva & Tarabrin, 1976, pp. 10—19).

According to Soviet scholars, in economic terms neocolonialism was based on the underdeveloped social structure, as well as the economic, scientific and technological backwardness of the Third World countries from the leading capitalist powers. The purpose of the latter was to keep their former colonies in an unequal, dependent and exploited state, while shifting on them a significant part of the costs of the capitalist mode of production, including 40—80% of their raw material needs. At the same time, the export of profits significantly exceeds the inflow of investments and the so-called “aid” from conditional “donors.”[5] The placement in developing countries by multinational corporations (MNCs) of production of individual units and parts not included in the economic complexes of these countries was intended to impose on them a “neocolonialist division of labor” (Kiva & Tarabrin, 1976, pp. 22—35). 

Particular attention was paid to neocolonialist theories, which Soviet experts divided into two groups: “versions of well-known bourgeois and reformist concepts addressed to developing countries” (including “self-liquidation of imperialism,” “transformation of capitalism,” “industrial society,” “convergence,” “harmony of interests,” “mixed economy,” “democratic socialism,” “functional socialism,” etc.) and “concepts and theories specially launched to support neocolonialism.” The latter included various versions of “interdependence” (from bilateral to multilateral), the transit from closed to collective neocolonialism, “dualism,” “modernization,” “economic growth,” “elites,” “new middle class,” “political leadership,” etc. (Kiva & Tarabrin, 1976, pp. 18—21).

Neocolonialism: Country Specifics

United Kingdom

The neocolonial policy of Great Britain is examined on the basis of the writings of E.A. Tarabrin (1969) and I.D. Parfenov (1969), who paid special attention to the role of political parties in the development and implementation of neocolonial policy. They concluded that neocolonialism was a general policy of the British ruling circles implemented by the state apparatus, regardless of who was in power: Labor Party or Conservatives (Parfenov, 1969; Tarabrin, 1969).

While the Conservatives were critical of socialist ideology, the Laborites often invoked fairness and humane policies in dealing with the colonies. However, as the Soviet experts argued, behind the external discrepancies and the verbal disguise of the two parties there was a complete continuity of assessments, clearly confirmed by practical activities. Thus, before World War II, the Laborites came out with harsh criticism of the imperialist policy of Italy in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Japan in China and Germany in Eastern Europe (Parfenov, 1969, p. 25). However, the colonial policy of UK itself was not subject to criticism.

Since the workers were an important component of the electoral base of the Laborites, this faction had to take their moods into account. Consequently, the use of armed violence against the national liberation movements, as soon as it became a cause of working class resentment, motivated the Laborites to adopt a more pacifist stance. This is how the domestic political situation developed during the Suez crisis of 1956 (Parfenov, 1969, pp. 68—70).

The neocolonialist course of the Laborites can be traced, for example, in their actions towards one of the failed projects of British neocolonialism — the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, also known as the Central African Federation. This pro-British semi-independent state existed from 1953 to 1963 and was formed from the colony of Southern Rhodesia and two protectorates, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. During the establishment of the Federation, for tactical reasons the Laborites voted against the government’s proposal in the House of Commons. But when the British Parliament later debated the situation in Central Africa on the demands of the African people of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland for independence and the abolition of the imposed Federation, the Laborites refrained from any constructive criticism of the Conservatives. At the same time, representatives of the Labor Party were negotiating with African leaders, seeking their agreement with the British government’s proposals (Tarabrin, 1969, pp. 30—31).

Only in those cases when the tactics of internal political struggle or other considerations dictated the need for camouflage maneuvers did the Laborites condemn individual actions of the Conservatives. For example, in March 1963, the leader of Laborites G. Wilson in his speech in the House of Commons cautiously criticized the constitution of Southern Rhodesia in 1964, which affirmed the power of the white minority (Tarabrin, 1969, p. 31). The future Prime Minister Ian Smith promised to change it, but, having come to power, he did not fulfill the promise. After Labor Party came to power, their policy on the “Rhodesian” issue was actually aimed at encouraging racism. Moreover, as Soviet experts argued, the false fuss of the Labor Party government and its’ Prime Minister, G. Wilson over the “rebel” I. Smith was also one of the tactics of British neocolonialism, aimed at disguising its true goals (Parfenov, 1969; Tarabrin, 1969).


French neocolonialism as a phenomenon, its emergence and the mechanisms of implementation on the African continent are analyzed on the basis of the works of E.G. Korenchuk[6] and L.N. Krasavina (1964).

France, which was forced to grant independence simultaneously to almost all of its colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1960, developed a comprehensive system (affecting all areas of society and the state) of maintaining its influence, which included bilateral agreements; shifting the burden of military expenditures to African budgets; creating economic currency zones, including the CFA franc zone; combating “dissent” African countries with the help of the closest to the former metropolis states; and, finally, creating pro-French organizations. In the military-political sphere, these included the African and Malagasy Union (AMU), formed in 1961, transformed into the African and Malagasy Common Organization (OCAM) in 1966 and finally disbanded in 1985 (after the withdrawal of 7 of the 16 member countries). In the cultural and educational sphere, it was the activity of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).

L.N. Krasavina pays special attention to the public assessment and theoretical justification of the monetary policy of the Fifth Republic. Thus, a key place in the French discourse on the Franc Zone was occupied by the theory of interdependence developed by French public figures, according to which “underdeveloped countries couldn’t overcome backwardness without cooperation with France” (Krasavina, 1964).

The analysis of the mechanisms of French neocolonialism acquires particular relevance when considering its current state. In fact, the whole set of mechanisms of neocolonialism in the political, military, cultural and economic spheres has remained practically unchanged for more than 60 years (except for the dissolution of OCAM).  Such pro-French organizations as OIF, the CFA franc zone (Degterev, 2003), the Organization for Harmonization of Commercial Law in Africa (OHADA) (Degterev, 2005) still continue to function. France maintains its military presence, and within the framework of “situational multilateralism,” engages the EU, the UN, and the United States to conduct joint operations in the Sahel zone (Amara, Degterev & Egamov, 2022; Davidchuk, Degterev & Sidibe, 2022). Thus, the mechanisms of French neocolonialism are of a long-term nature.

West Germany

According to researchers from socialist countries,[7] West Germany was a leading neocolonial power, which was building a new type of relations with developing countries. Neocolonialism, militarism and revanchism were closely intertwined in West German imperialism (Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, p. 25). After 1918, Germany lost all its colonies, so Berlin used exclusively economic and monetary tools to exploit the Third World. In its neocolonialist activities, the West German government heavily relied on providing “aid” to developing countries, which made it possible to compete successfully with other Western countries in foreign markets by increasing its exports. Such “aid” was provided in three different formats: economic, technical and cultural.

As an example of economic “aid” of West Germany, the construction of the first steel plant in India in Rourkel by Krupp and Demag in the late 1950s and early 1960s should be mentioned. For this purpose German companies attracted 36 firms and 3,000 contractors and managed to supply obsolete equipment (Ochkov, 1971, pp. 107—108). Another example was Krupp’s work in Angola to reconstruct mines, build new railroads, and modernize a number of ports for uninterrupted supplies of iron and manganese ore. In the 1960s, almost the entire mining industry in Angola was in the hands of the Krupp group. In addition, Krupp managed to monopolize the production and supply of electrical equipment to the Portuguese colonies (Kartsev, 1968, p. 4).

With the image of a country that had lost its colonies relatively long ago (Ivkina, 2021), West Germany was seen as a striking force of international imperialism and a neocolonialist “door opener” with a “pilot function” (Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, p. 115). The West German government provided financial and material-military assistance, including former colonies of other European powers, especially Portugal (Kartsev, 1968, pp. 6—12; Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, pp. 117—120). West Germany also made quite substantial contributions to the US-centered financial institutions of the Bretton Woods — the IMF and the World Bank, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, and the International Finance Corporation (Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, p. 120).

In 1957, the European Economic Community, the prototype of the future European Union, was formed. For Germany, this bloc has become a tool to promote its economic interests in non-traditional areas of Africa, such as the French colonial zone. West Germany acted simultaneously, following two formats — within the framework of “collective neocolonialism” and classic interstate competition for markets. Within the EEC structures, West Germany actively acted in the framework of the European Development Fund, whose funds were used, among other things, for the development of infrastructure in developing countries (Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, p. 125).

Thus, Soviet researchers singled out the following as the key features of West German neocolonialism:

  • special desire for expansion as a result of the inability to achieve military and political influence equal to economic power;
  • extreme anti-communism (discrediting the USSR and the world socialist movement);
  • use of the “anti-colonialist” agenda;
  • use of the legend of the West German “economic miracle,” as a result of which the country allegedly “started from scratch” and achieved impressive success largely thanks to the talent of Minister of Economics Ludwig Erhard (Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, pp. 100—101);
  • “mechanism” of neocolonialist methods and their characteristics, including “aid” to developing countries, direct lending of supplies, other forms of capital exports, proactive foreign trade (Friedländer & Schilling, 1963, p. 71).

The European Economic Community: Collective Neocolonialism

Soviet studies describing the European neocolonial experience have highlighted several mechanisms by which former metropolises continued their exploitative policies in Africa.

Firstly, the Yaoundé and Lomé Conventions, which became important instruments for European countries in building Euro-Africa (Zubchenko & Shabaeva, 1981). With their help, as well as the subsequent implementation of the System of Stabilization of Income from Commodity Exports by ACP Countries to Europe (STABEX system), a new type of “legitimate dependence” of African states on the former colonizers was formed. Suffice to note that during the first Lomé Convention, the EEC increased exports to the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) by 57% and imports from them by 41%, thus gaining significant economic preferences (Zubchenko & Shabaeva, 1960, p. 13). These agreements did not take into account existing structural inequalities between EEC and ACP countries.

Secondly, protectionism on trade in raw materials and agricultural goods, necessary for the EEC countries development. An effective protection mechanism was developed for certain processed agricultural products, which limited the development of industries that Africans themselves needed. The European Development Fund invested in export crops (peanuts, coffee, cotton, etc.) at the expense of food crops.

Thirdly, isolated economic groupings in Africa with a unilateral orientation toward imperialist countries, promoted by the former metropolises and their regional partners. This really created a “fear of neocolonialism” (Loch & Hasenpflug, 1974, p. 40). Soviet scholars viewed this as an attempt to preserve colonialism in a new form, no longer through the direct use of African resources by individual European states, but through “common market” mechanisms, from which the European side benefited mainly. This would later become rather important factor in collective neocolonialism.

Fourthly, obstacles to the development of inter-African cooperation and relations with socialist countries. The strengthening of ties between the former colonies themselves could give rise to a partial refusal to import certain categories of goods. Since European countries used the African continent as a market, even its partial loss would slow down the European integration development in the economic sphere. This was due to the high costs of the process of “equalizing” of European countries applying for membership in the integration organization.

The main reason for the dependence of African countries on former metropolises was the lack of a clear vision by local elites of an alternative to the instructions received from Europe (Gura & Nesuk, 1981, p. 95). The Soviet vision of European neocolonialism can be characterized as a system of “containment through development,” which meant that only those sectors that were beneficial to the former metropolises were subject to development, while the sectors necessary for Africans themselves remained outside the financial and investment support of the EEC.

The main elements of the EU’s trade policy toward Africa and other ACP regions, aimed at conserving center-periphery relations and preventing the regional integration of developing countries, are still in place today. In the 21st century, they are being implemented in the context of the 2000 Cotonou Agreement and the Post-Cotonou Process, which will take effect in 2023, as well as the system of EU — ACP Economic Partnership Agreements. The latter are concluded by the EU not only with established sub-regional economic groupings in Africa (e.g., Southern African Development Community, SADC), but also with groups of countries identified by the EU itself (e.g., East and Southern Africa; Central Africa; West Africa, etc.) (Amuhaya & Degterev, 2022, pp. 125—177).

United States

Unlike the key countries of the “collective West,” the United States is not a classical neocolonial power. It’s more appropriate to speak of a new type of imperialist neocolonialism (Sirotkina & Alpidovskaya, 2020). Returning from the 1945 Yalta Conference, US President F.D. Roosevelt held a historic meeting with King Farouk I of Egypt, King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, which marked the beginning of US control over the regions of the Middle East and Africa (Kassae Nigusie, 2019, pp. 161—162). The establishment of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, one of the main instruments of control of former European metropolises, as well as other components of the American-centric structural power of the “collective West” (Strange, 1994), including the Bretton Woods institutions (International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and others were important milestones on the path of the US becoming a neocolonial power of a new type.

In 1949, the United States launched a program of technical assistance to developing countries (“Point Four”), the prototype of the US Agency for International Development, whose participants included many diversely trained specialists, including Pentecostal preachers. “Point Four” included the training of local personnel, the provision of technical assistance for the development of agriculture, health and education. The US claimed that this program would help to transform the pre-industrial economy into a developed, industrial economy and develop democratic institutions. In practice, this was not the case: many states, due to the specifics of their socio-economic structures, could not borrow the standards of life and political culture of the “collective West,” in some cases preferred the construction of the strong armed forces to the development of the economy (Kassae Nigusie, 2019, pp. 226—227). In the 1970s—1980s, during the implementation of economic structural adjustment programs, developing countries were recolonized, but not at the initiative of the former metropolises, as in the 19th century, but this time with the participation of hundreds of IMF and World Bank managers (Riddell, 1992; Degterev, 2022).

However, the origins of modern American neocolonial policy should be sought in Asia, which became a kind of “laboratory” for the US, an experimental platform where not only old, but also new schemes of colonial penetration and neocolonial domination were developed taking into account local specifics and realities of the 20th century.[8]

As a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898, the United States seized Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, which had belonged to the Kingdom of Spain since the 16th century. The US began working out its neocolonial policy in the Asia-Pacific region with the Philippines. As a result of the Philippine Organic Act of July 1902, the term “colony” disappeared from the US official vocabulary. Political documents referred to the Philippines as either a “dependent territory” or an “island possession.” But this did not change the colonial essence (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 19). Subsequently, president W. Wilson proclaimed the so-called “new era” in US colonial policy — to allow Filipinos to participate in drafting their Constitution, which would take effect only after its approval by the US president (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 25).

After taking control of the Philippines, Washington came to understand that it was ineffective to govern the country according to “classic” colonial models. The US launched the establishment of the administrative and managerial system similar to American institutions, using for its purposes the traditional structures of local society. A key role in this was played by the process of “Philippinization,” understood as the participation of the Philippine upper classes in the social, political, and governmental system created by the United States (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 8).

Under these conditions, the municipal government system was reorganized. Whereas under the Spanish colonizers the Filipinos were excluded from leadership positions in the municipality, now bourgeoisie representatives were bet on, but first they had to prove their loyalty to the American colonial regime by joining the Federal Party (Vinogradov, 1987, pp. 17—32).

In addition, the Philippines were a kind of “testing ground,” where methods of “appeasement” against national liberation movements (counter-guerrilla struggle) were practiced. Subsequently, they were used as part of the US intervention in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 11).

In general, the US has focused on four areas of governance in the Philippines — the development of managerial capacity, education, language policy and the army.

The “new” colonial policy of the United States, which sought from its first steps to create and then, if possible, expand the socio-political base of its domination in the Philippines, including through the formation of a pro-American administrative and managerial apparatus, in the period of the Organic Act took already a more “polished” form (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 29). The formation of local educated elite that underwent pro-American indoctrination acquired particular importance for the United States in the first years after the Great October Socialist Revolution (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 38).

Education was rather important for the cultural “Americanization” of young Filipinos as a potential pool to staff the Filipino part of the administrative apparatus. In almost all municipalities, elementary schools were opened, and in provincial centers and secondary schools, the main teachers in which were Americans, and classes were taught using American textbooks. The US policy was aimed at creating a new, pro-American Filipino intelligentsia, to train qualified and loyal personnel for the purpose of increasing the number of Filipinos in the country’s administrative apparatus.

The most important component of education became language training as a form of new neocolonial civilizational dependence (Vinogradov, 1987, p. 26). It was about the mass spread of English, both in everyday life and in education.

According to the plans of the American advisers, the Philippine paramilitary police were to be fully integrated into the regular army, so that the latter would perform police functions not proper to it. In general, the US, through the methods of neocolonialism, sought to slow down the process of achieving economic and foreign policy independence by relying on pro-American elements in the state apparatus of the Philippines (Vinogradov, 1987, pp. 54—56). Even today, the Philippines remain one of the strongholds of the US in the region.

Neocolonialism: Functional Areas

Technical assistance

One of the key functional areas in which the countries of the “collective West” implement their neocolonial policies is technical assistance. The main forms of technical assistance included transfer of knowledge and skills, sale of licenses and patents, supply of equipment, machinery, assemblies, parts and spare parts, as well as reinvestment of profits, purchase of preferred shares, restructuring of debts (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 42).

In the 1960s and 1970s, donor countries, especially the United States, Germany, and UK, focused their technical assistance on sending specialists in various fields to transfer knowledge and skills, as well as volunteers. The direct transfer of equipment accounted for a smaller proportion of their technical assistance (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, pp. 60—114). France, Great Britain, and Germany also paid special attention to training personnel for developing countries. But graduates of such programs faced difficulties in finding employment in their home countries, especially in their specialty. Personnel trained abroad “became teachers, employees of the state apparatus, and left their home countries,” due to the lack of a proper technological base in the countries of origin and the demand for their skills (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 13).

It is noteworthy that, along with technical experts, there were also representatives of the humanities among the seconded specialists, which confirms the thesis about the impact on the consciousness and minds of people in developing countries. However, the authors also admit gaps in such approach. Over time, it became clear that the general experts were not in high demand in recipient countries, while those who worked in similar conditions and had practical experience in implementing more narrow initiatives were in greater demand.

Nevertheless, according to M.M. Koptev and M.S. Ochkov, “Technological assistance” entails inclusion in the Western value discourse and allows influencing the minds of millions of people. They believe that “an integral part of the strategy of imperialist policy of “technical assistance” was the desire to increase the ideological impact on the general public” (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 43).  This very thesis runs like a red thread in the work by V.V. Mayorov (1981), as well as A.A. Ozadovsky. The latter links international “assistance” not only to the promotion of Western values, but also to the implementation of Western demographic and food programs (Ozadovsky, 1985).

M.M. Koptev and M.S. Ochkov also believe that the emphasis on developing one’s own scientific potential was the main competitive strategy of the United States, even in relations with its allies, Japan and the EEC countries. The authors note that in the late 1960s, the Americans actively invested in research and development (R&D), which gave them an advantage in technological assistance and in the international arena as a whole (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 32).

The United States provided almost no technical “assistance” in manufacturing industries. In 1960—1971, most of their technical assistance was divided equally between agriculture and education, USD 201 and 203 million, respectively. By 1978, the situation changed in favor of agriculture, with USD 83.6 versus 39 million. At the same time, funding for public administration increased significantly — USD 32.6 million (Mayorov, 1981, p. 215).

Another important nuance pointed out by the authors is that the target groups of recipients of US aid have also changed. Initially the Americans tried to implement their technical “assistance” programs through the private sector, for example, in agriculture. But later they came to understand that it was the state that was responsible for the development of science and technology in developing countries and it was necessary to place greater emphasis on cooperation with government agencies (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 16).

Soviet experts refer to patenting and licensing as elements of neocolonialism, pointing out that existing patent legislation actually limits the development of innovations in developing countries, increases the cost of products on the local market and makes a number of technologies inaccessible to a larger number of the population, including due to high license fees (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 120). Technological dependence was also created by engineering consultancy, which was constantly needed to handle new technologies and equipment and to maintain its performance (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 149). The authors show this by the case of Japanese technical “assistance,” which was focused on educating potential Japanese economic partners, establishing specialized educational centers, and accepting trainees. In the future, these partners allowed Japanese capital to enter and gain a foothold in it (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, pp. 100—112).

Soviet experts highlight that technical “assistance” was followed by an increase in trade, which outweighs the costs of the former (Koptev & Ochkov, 1977, p. 42). Since the process of providing technical “assistance” actually prepares the ground for the full-fledged entry of foreign capital into the market of developing countries, not only through the demand for appropriate technology, but also through information intelligence and the building of appropriate communications.

Overall, V.V. Mayorov notes in his work that international aid was nothing more than “A payment for maintaining the neocolonial international economic relations of developed countries with developing ones” (Mayorov, 1981, p. 215). He also quotes American political scientist D. Baldwin that “Foreign aid is a means by which one nation tries to induce other nations to act in a desirable way,” confirming the idea that US international aid was instrumental (Mayorov, 1981, p. 58). He supports the thesis that those monopolies played a key role in American neocolonialism. Like A.A. Ozadovsky he stresses the correlation between the increase in aid and the number of regional problems (Mayorov, 1981, p. 48). The author also distinguishes two US approaches to international “aid”: direct and indirect influence, depending on the motives underlying their implementation (Mayorov, 1981, pp. 58—59).

Food Neocolonialism

A number of Soviet works are devoted to the problems of agricultural and food neocolonialism (Ivanchuk & Puz’, 1989; Klyueva, 1987; Savchuk, 1984). In addition, a work by the Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Institute of Agrarian History of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on West German “technical assistance” to agriculture in developing countries (Koshkin, 1966) was translated into Russian.

According to researchers from the USSR and the GDR, the policy of capitalist countries in relation to agriculture and food supply of developing countries embodies the main features of agrarian neocolonialism. Despite the steady decline in the share of developing countries in the value of world agricultural and livestock exports (from 34% in the early 1970s to 29% in 1980), income from agricultural exports has been a priority source of foreign exchange earnings for two-thirds of developing countries (Ivanchuk & Puz’, 1989, pp. 13—14).

Due to the acute crisis of agriculture in developing countries, state structures of capitalist countries have intensified their efforts to direct agricultural modernization in order to ensure the stability of global capitalist economic relations. The activities of these institutions have been particularly active since the early 1970s, when transnational structures already controlled approximately 80% of the export of agricultural products from the Third World countries (Ivanchuk & Puz’, 1989, p. 13).

It must be emphasized that foreign commercial capital was not as active in agriculture as in other sectors of material production and services, nor was it a force capable of radically transforming much of the agricultural economy. State structures operating in the agrarian sectors of the foreign policy of capitalist countries are the leaders in the development of programs of action in the direction of private and state capital for certain groups of countries, in the formation of conditions for the material production of the agricultural sphere of developing countries, in the establishment of strategic directions of development, based on the importance of agricultural export resources of developing countries for the West.

Socialist researchers identify four main stages in the export of state capital to agriculture and food security in developing countries.

In the first stage, from the mid-1940s to the early 1960s, neocolonialism emerges as a specific type of relationship of subordination and dependence within the framework of the restructuring of the forms of former colonial domination.

The second stage, at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, was characterized by a radical transformation of imperialist agrarian policies. It was defined by the final collapse of the colonial empires, which pushed the capitalist world to join forces and develop a common strategy for developing countries. T

he 1970s fell into the third period in the policy of exporting state capital. This was a phase of further, significant transformations in neocolonial imperialist policy in general and especially in its agrarian component. These changes were motivated by the desire to ease the growing divisions between center and periphery.

The fourth stage of the “collective West’s” neocolonial policy of exporting capital came in the 1980s. Despite some qualitative changes, this period was the continuation of a trend characteristic of the entire postwar period, namely, an increasing influence on developing countries. Starting with interventions in the infrastructural part of the national economy, foreign capital gradually began to influence the production sectors (the agrarian sphere of developing countries), and through the system of providing new loans went beyond purely economic activities, influencing the whole state policy of the recipient countries (Ivanchuk & Puz’, 1989).

Most Western countries have established separate units and institutions to provide food “aid.” In Great Britain, the vast majority of funds were used to support white farmers. In the US, a new program, “Food for Progress,” was established in 1986 (Ivanchuk & Puz’, 1989, p. 65). In West Germany a number of institutions at higher and secondary vocational education levels were established to provide agricultural “aid,” such as the Institutes for Foreign Agriculture at the Technical University in West Berlin and at the Agricultural Institute in Stuttgart-Hohenheim. Their representatives were part of the Council for Developing Countries, which coordinated the expertise of the West German international “aid” policy. This council consisting of the following academic institutions: the German Institute for Economic Research, the Institute for Foreign Agriculture, the East European Institute, the Hamburg World Economy Archive, the World Economy Institute at Kiel University, and the Economic Policy Institute at the University of Cologne (Koshkin, 1966). Japan’s international aid strategy focused on establishing a production base in recipient countries for subsequent exports to Japan of a variety of agricultural commodities. In the second half of the 1970s and first half of the 1980s, Japanese “aid” was also increasingly used to produce food for local markets in recipient countries.

Overall, one can point out the great involvement of Western food aid experts in conducting field studies and analyses of local conditions, public-private partnerships in entering foreign food markets, mainly in the role of importers of tropical agricultural products. At the same time, a number of Soviet works did not take local conditions into account when estimating protein quantities, and some Soviet proposals to improve protein shortages by introducing improved varieties, nationalizing farmland, and training did not always bring the expected results (e.g., in Ethiopia). It seems that Soviet experts did not pay enough attention to criticism of international organizations in the field of food aid, including Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program, and others, and took rather loyally most of the programs they proposed.

International organizations

Soviet studies on the US practice of using international organizations in its foreign policy goals are of special interest. Studying the role of international organizations, Soviet researchers focused on the successful use by the United States and its allies of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the International Development Association and other Bretton Woods institutions to strengthen their positions and pursue neocolonial policies in developing countries, often interfering in their internal affairs (Vakhrushev, 1968, p. 63). Most of the international “aid” was used to build and improve infrastructure to export raw materials from developing countries to Western countries, rather than to develop heavy industry and other important sectors of the economy (Vakhrushev, 1968, pp. 72—73).

In studying US capital investment abroad through international financial organizations, Soviet researchers presented numerous data on the enormous profits made by the United States on its capital investments in developing countries. It was calculated that during 1957—1960 the value of US private direct investment alone in all developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America rose to USD 1,834 million, while profits from direct investment at the same time amounted to over USD 6 billion (Vakhrushev, 1968, p. 6). In 1970—1977, MNCs transferred USD 72.7 billion from developing countries in the form of profit, which was 1.3 times higher than the volume of new investments in these countries during the same period (Dracheva, 1982, pp. 82—83). As shown by the presented figures, the profits from direct investment far exceeded the amount of the initial investment.

Soviet researchers often highlighted that it was under the pretext of protecting human rights in the territories of developing countries that the Western powers promoted their aggressive neocolonial policies in order to:

1) weaken the international influence of socialism;

2) seize the initiative of international human rights activists;

3) gather all capitalist and monopolistic states under the aegis of the United States;

4) position the US as the guardian of high moral and humanistic values in front of developing countries;

5) find a convenient ideological cover for the expansion of American transnational companies around the world (Baichorov, 1985, pp. 19—20).


This review of Soviet literature on neocolonialism demonstrates the systematic nature of the conducted research, the depth and serious quality of the works under study. The propaganda pathos and ideological framework only slightly refracted the perception of existing international realities. Moreover, most of the works were written by expert practitioners, such as E.A. Tarabrin. Academic works formed the basis for practical recommendations in the context of the Cold War, which spilled over into the Third World (Tarabrin, 1977; Kanet, 2006). Specific instruments of Western assistance programs in personnel training (Ermolov, 1963), including Peace Corps activities (Verein, 1971), technological neocolonialism (Shitov, 1985; Miksha, 1990), and technical assistance, as well as food aid, were subjected to a particularly thorough analysis.

However, by the end of the 1980s, in the era of Gorbachev’s “New Political Thinking,” the initial critical degree of Soviet studies of neocolonialism began to weaken (Athreya, 1989; Degterev, 2022). This happened in the context of the gradual involvement of the Third World countries in the IMF and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs (Riddell, 1992), the rebirth of the Soviet intelligentsia under the influence of radical political changes in the USSR and the collapse of the socialist camp (Dabashi, 2011, pp. 42—43). The Soviet Union itself also moved toward integration into the “collective West” (Kurylev et al., 2022). So, it is not surprising that the actions of former Western metropolises began to be assessed much more loyally than before. A similar metamorphosis took place with Palestinian intellectuals (Massad, 1997).

The exacerbation of the crisis of the Russian Federation in relations with the countries of the “collective West,” which began in 2014 and reached its peak after the start of the special military operation in February 2022, re-actualizes the academic approaches explored in this paper.


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Davidschuk Anna Sergeevna — Student, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0001-7406-2552; e-mail: [email protected]

Degterev Denis Andreevich — PhD (Economics), Dr. of Sc. (Political Science), Professor, Head, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); Professor, MGIMO University; ORCID: 0000-0001-7426-1383; e-mail: [email protected]

Dubrovsky Ivan Rodionovich — Master Student, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0003-2655-0927; e-mail: [email protected]

Zhuravleva Evgeniya Vladimirovna — PhD (History), Senior Lecturer, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0003-2583-8750; e-mail: [email protected]

Enokyan Artem Vachaganovich — Assistant, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0002-5758-7637; e-mail: [email protected]

Ivkina Natalia Viktorovna — PhD (History), Associate Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0001-8654-7629; e-mail: [email protected]

Nikulin Maksim Andreevich — PhD (History), Assistant, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0002-0971-0987; e-mail: [email protected]

Kassaye Nigusie Wolde Mikael — PhD, Dr. of Sc. (History), Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0002-2792-6634; e-mail: [email protected]

Shpakovskaya Marina Anatolyevna — PhD, Dr. of Sc. (History), Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); ORCID: 0000-0003-4463-880X; e-mail: [email protected]

[1] Korenchuk E. G. French Neocolonialism in Tropical Africa (1958—1972): Student book. Moscow : UDN publ., 1981 [Коренчук Е. Г. Французский неоколониализм в Тропической Африке (1958—1972 гг.) : учебное пособие. Москва : УДН, 1981]. (In Russian). See also: (Korenchuk, 1979).

[2] X international scientific conference “Africa in the context of the formation of a new system of international relations” on the topic “Past, present and future of the African continent (to the 60th anniversary of the Year of Africa)” // RUDN University [X международная научная конференция «Африка в контексте формирования новой системы международных отношений» на тему: «Прошлое, настоящее и будущее африканского континента (к 60-летию Года Африки)» // РУДН]. March 17, 2020. (In Russian). URL:… (accessed: 07.10.2022).

[3] The electronic archive can be accessed at: URL:

[4] The author’s contribution to the current review article is as follows: introduction, features of Western Neocolonialism, conclusion — D.A. Degterev; United Kingdom — I.R. Dubrovskiy; France — A.S. Davidchuk; West Germany — M.A. Nikulin; European Economic Community: Collective Neocolonialism — N.V. Ivkina; United States — M.A. Shpakovskaya, Kassae Nigusie W.M.; Technical Assistance — E.V. Zhuravleva; Food Neocolonialism — S.A. Bokeriya, Kassae Nigusie W.M.; International Organizations — A.V. Enokyan.

[5] It is noteworthy that in Soviet literature the words “aid” and “donors” in reference to Western countries were always written in quotation marks in order to emphasize the hypocritical nature of these categories.

[6] Korenchuk E. G. French Neocolonialism in Tropical Africa (1958—1972): Student book. Moscow : UDN publ., 1981 [Коренчук Е. Г. Французский неоколониализм в Тропической Африке (1958—1972 гг.) : учебное пособие. Москва : УДН, 1981]. (In Russian). See also: (Korenchuk, 1979).

[7] In addition to the Soviet researches, these were experts from the German Democratic Republic, whose works were translated into Russian.

[8] Soviet research on American neocolonialism is complemented by William J. Pomeroy’s (1916—2009) work, which was translated into Russian. He was an American communist and a journalist, who in 1940—1950s participated in the guerrilla war of the Philippine Communist Party against the government. See: (Vinogradov, 1987; Pomeroy, 1973).

By Denis A. Degterev
Source: Tsargrad Institute

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