The concept of imperialism basically designates the existence of relatively concentrated authority and rule and is diffused over broad territorial contours. In modern times, it has more specifically come to denote a type of political system through which one state has extended its rule over other states, mostly territorially noncontiguous ones, without entirely incorporating them into a framework of common political symbols and identity. It thus refers essentially to attempts to establish formal sovereignty over subordinate political societies, but is also often equated with the exercise of any form of political control or influence by one political community over another.
Imperialism has become part of a propaganda battle. In communist terminology, the word remains restricted to the policies of the West, in particular the USA; whereas Western authors have sought to identify communist policies with 'the new imperialism'. Writers in the developing countries have made the word interchangeable with 'neocolonialism'; others have extended the term to refer to the economic, political, and military policies of all industrialized states, including the former Soviet Union, or of the white race as such, or even of any unsympathetic foreign state.