Dominance relations between nations, hegemonies, blocs and other political collectivities is a function of the structures and interests of the collectivities, of which imperialism arising out of an industrialist need for expanding markets is one special case. This case, however, is illuminated by the dynamics of the several interests, particularly where the objectives or even their methods or methodological theories differ. In the case of objectives or goals, the incompatibility of these within the relationship may not be initially apparent. In fact, actors in such relationships may not even know, or fully know, where their end interests lie. Some may already have been subordinated in a relationship to the extent that their consciousness of autonomous, particular objectives may have been distorted or subverted to serve the ends of the dominant member. In other cases, autonomous goals may be hidden or suppressed as a supposed strategem.
Whatever the aetiology of conflict, its symptoms are clearly indicated by a condition of comparative disadvantage or limitation in the subordinate constituencies. These disadvantages may be political, economic, social or cultural. When the gap between the advantages of the dominant members and the disadvantages of the subordinate members is very large, or is constantly growing, or the disadvantages affect the life and health of individuals or the real sovereignty of nations, the dominant partner in the conflict is imperialist, whether by active intent or by omission, to correct the tendency in relationships for some to sink into subordination. Much of the continuing imperialism today is due to neglect of international responsibilities by the powers, reinforced by self-interest and aggravated by the disarray among the developing countries among whom there are also conflicts of interests.