…today’s colonials fight back. Britain occupied India with a tiny force
because the Indians mostly let them, and on the rare occasions when
they rebelled the British (like all the other European colonial powers)
felt free to crush them in the most brutal manner imaginable.
No matter how we compare American and British brutalities (we dropped many bombs on Vietnam), I place greater stock in the railroad (later the car and bus) and the radio. In the early days of British control, most Indians couldn’t get within shouting distance of a fight if they wanted to. The Brits had only to control some key garrisoned cities and some trade routes. Local rulers did the rest. Radio, which spread in the 1920s, told people what was going on and cemented national consciousness. Those technologies heralded the later end of colonialism, with WWII hurrying along the new equilibrium.
Might some future technology might render colonialism more likely (NB: I am not saying "more desirable")? Extreme surveillance is one possiiblity, but this appears far off for poorer locales. More likely is simply that rich countries buy the loyalty of some (smaller) poor countries, as the French seem to have done with Martinique.
If the world’s very poor countries stay in Malthusian traps, how long will it be before wealthy philanthropists can try to "adopt a country"? Measured Haitian gdp, for instance, is only a few billion dollars a year (TC: don’t ask about the storms!). Yes many countries have laws against foreign investment and land ownership, but at some point a correct strategy can put the money to good use. Can an entire corrupt government simply be bought out? Just how much money, and what kind of plan, would a private philanthropist need each year to turn Haiti around, or at least bring it to the standards of Martinique?