«The combination of Lenin's genius for propaganda and an audience receptive to his thesis allowed his theory of imperialism to be widely accepted among intellectuals, activists and people in the Third World. Exploitation is a virtually perfect political explanation of income differences. It validates whatever envy or resentment may be felt by people with lower incomes toward people with higher incomes. It removes whatever stigma may be felt from implications of lower ability or lower performance on the part of those with lower incomes. It locates the need for change in other people, rather than imposing the burden of change on those who wish to rise. Moreover, it replaces any such burdensome task with a morally uplifting sense of entitlement. Whatever the empirical and logical problems with the theory of exploitation, political movements are seldom based on empirical evidence and logic.
Those who blamed the poverty of Third World nations on colonialism continued to blame the legacy of colonialism for decades after most of these Third World colonies became independent nations. The same belief provided a basis for independent Third World nations to confiscate the property of foreign investors who were seen as "exploiters". ln the places where there were sizable European settler communities, as in Zimbabwe or South Africa, such beliefs provided rationales for dispossessing the European settlers. However, in doing so, Third World governments inadvertently revealed the fallacy of the belief that physical wealth was crucial.
If it was, such confiscations would improve the economic conditions of the indigenous population. But, if it was the internal knowledge, skills, and cultural patterns which produced prosperity, then the transfer of physical wealth from those who had the necessary knowledge, skills, and cultural patterns to those who did not would have very different consequences. The African nation of Zimbabwe was an all too typical example. Zimbabwe repudiated the last remnants of its colonial past in the early twenty-first century by dispossessing white landowners, with these results, as reported the New York Times:
“For close to seven years, Zimbabwe's economy and quality of life have been in slow, uninterrupted decline. They are still declining this year, people there say, with one notable difference: the pace is no longer so slow ...
In recent weeks, the national power authority has warned of a collapse of electrical service. A breakdown in water treatment has set off a new outbreak of cholera in the capital, Harare. All public services were cut off in Marondera, a regional capital of 50,000 in eastern Zimbabwe, after the city ran out of money to fix broken equipment. ln Chitungwiza just south of Harare, electricity is supplied only four days a week.”»
Exploitation, Economic Facts and Fallacies, Thomas Sowell