Neo-imperialism refers to the dominance of some nations over others by means of unequal conditions of economic exchange. In other words, neo-imperialism exists when one nation is dependent upon another because the weaker nation is unable to survive economically in the modern world without the aid of the stronger nation.
Neo-imperialism, unlike earlier methods of imperialism (i.e., the old empire system), is not founded upon the direct imposition of political power by one society upon another. Instead, neo-imperialism uses the power of money in the modern world as a way for richer countries to keep poorer countries from stepping outside of the roles that richer countries have defined for them.
Neo-imperialism exists in the world in many degrees today. The most obvious and straightforward example of neo-imperialism today is the relationship between industrialized societies and the Third World. Third World nations are largely dependent upon the industrialized world for money with which to purchase food, shelter, and other essentials. Industrialized nations are willing to give this in terms of aid; in return, however, the Third World nations often have to go along with the foreign policies of the nations that aided them or face the prospect of the elimination of aid.
Other, less obvious examples of neo-imperialism exist all over the globe. Any time an aid package is given from one nation to another, it could be considered an example of neo-imperialism. Any time an intrusive foreign policy is allowed by a foreign entity, it could be considered an example of neo-imperialism. Neo-imperialism, as a general concept, throws a large shadow over modern economic and diplomatic policy in all nations because of the strongly global aspect of modern international dealings.
It is the belief in the idea of neo-imperialism, particularly in the sense that it is merely an updated form of the old imperialistic system, that has caused many nations to openly dislike and oppose the United States; it is often apparent that the United States is the leader in developing neo-imperialistic relationships with other nations. Many nations believe that this neo-imperialistic attitude that the United States often takes through strong foreign aid packages and an intrusive foreign policy add up to just a modern form of the old British Empire that many of them fought for years to throw off.
This begs the question of whether or not neo-imperialism is morally right. On the one hand, without the large aid packages, the already-low standard of living in many Third World nations would be much worse than it already is. On the other hand, however, it does give industrialized nations such as the United States a great deal of influence and power over these nations when it comes to foreign policy. It is a question that will have to be resolved in order for the modern world to be at peace.
Cultural neo-imperialism is also a threat. When stronger nations give aid to weaker nations, quite often the culture of the stronger nation is accepted along with the aid. The result of this is often a strong cultural clash, as can be exhibited when we see people in Third World nations receiving aid and demonstrating symbols of the cultures of the industrialized world. This can often result in the alteration of and destruction of cultures, another strong danger of neo-imperialism.
Neo-imperialism is a very general way to view many of the new issues that are developing and will develop as our world grows smaller due to more effective communication and contact between foreign nations. In this new world, we all need to be very careful that we do not fall into the traps of the past and instead build new bridges into the future.