The Purpose and Method of Colonisation

(Continued from last issue)

ATTENTION has already been drawn to a good deal of conclusive evidence exposing the humbug and hypocrisy of the assertion that the “civilised ” white man’s effort in the Colonies is in any way disinterested, and prompted by a desire for the amelioration and uplifting of the status of the natives. The Socialist’s suspicion is, of course, immediately aroused by the simple facts that (1) the missionary is ever closely followed by keen business men and concession hunters, and that (2) the boasted “inherent superiority” of the “imperially thinking,” white saviours frankly and emphatically discount any relationship other than domineering distinction from the teeming millions of coloured, and especially black subject races. For our prejudiced opponents, however, it will be necessary to enquire more into the ways in which the interests and affairs of the natives are safeguarded and handled by the white intruders, to perceive the real objective of colonisation. Before entering into more details as to the methods employed, we will, however, take the opportunity to show that the aforementioned “fine qualities” of our masters and their apologetic agents are coupled with a colossal amount of impudence and effrontery. A few examples will suffice.

Among the pretexts which our “disinterested” pioneers of civilisation use in justification of their missions and interference in the natives’ affairs, we find the former “deploring,” and asserting that they are out to “eradicate,” such evils as the precariousness and insecurity of primitive man’s conditions of existence, their inter-tribal warfare, their ignorance, superstitions, etc.

Now, it would no doubt be a highly laudable action for anyone to endeavour to bring light and leading to such tribal societies as are actually afflicted with a similar state of things. But, how should we describe, if not as a piece of colossal impudence, such pretence of remedying and uplifting coming, as it does, from a quarter where men have long been at their wits’ end to know how to grapple with the “gigantic problems” of ever increasing poverty and misery, unemployment and disease, which perplex Europe to-day ? How should we name otherwise than as gross insults, such pretensions coming from quarters where even “ever grinding labour does not always guarantee sustenance or security ; where you still have oppression of the weak by the strong, and where you have a condition of things which, at any rate, was foreign to the barbarities even of darker ages” ? (Vide Lloyd George’s statement at Cardiff, 30.12.11.)

Tribal warfare ! There, no doubt, the savage and the barbarian have something to learn from their superior brethren, provided, of course, they have not yet had a sample of “white superiority” by having their villages burned to the ground by the most up-to-date methods of modern militarism, and finding themselves forced into increasing toil on the plantations of Christian exploiters.

Were a party of African or other aborigines to arrive in these days on the “highly civilised” continent of Europe, their own achievements on the battlefield would certainly and rightly appear to them mere childsplay as compared with the orgies of blood, fire, and rapine that “our” chiefs are capable of engineering, not only on land, but on the sea and in the air. As far back as 1838, William Howitt wrote in his “Popular History of the Treatment of the Natives by the Europeans in all their Colonies” :

“The barbarities and desperate outrages of the so-called Christian race, throughout every region of the world, and upon every people they have been able to subdue, are not to be paralleled by those of any other race, however fierce, however untaught, and however reckless of mercy and of shame, in any age of the earth.”

Apart from the unceasing class-war that is raging inside every civilised Christian nation between the confiscators of the means of life and the disinherited masses who can only exist by selling themselves, body and soul, to the former appropriators, the agents of our “piece-loving” masters and “great intellectuals” have to admit that, as a rule, peace (i.e., the peaceable division of the pieces) between the different nations can only be preserved on condition of being armed to the teeth, and applying every new technical discovery, as fast as it is made, to the instruments of destruction. Nay, so brilliant and beneficient are the results of “our education” and of the gospel of the Prince of Peace, that—as the experience in Ireland, for example, has shown—even the folk of one and the same community can be persuaded to drill and arm against one another !

And from such quarters comes the pretence of concern about the evils of tribal warfare existing in continents thousands of miles away, amongst peoples who are despised and held in utter contempt by the Christian nations ! The unblushing effrontery of it ! Just imagine those who do not care a rap about the welfare of their fellows at home ; imagine those who could stand by in perfect composure, during the recent Balkan atrocities, hearing week in and week out the poignant tales of the wholesale devastation of innocent peasants’ villages; imagine those who are to day responsible for :

“Battlefields Covered With Dead”
“Brilliant Bayonet Fighting”
“Great Slaughter of Germans” ;

imagine, if you can, those intellectually bankrupt and morally decrepit apologists for the powers that be, to be capable and anxious of decently educating or bettering the lot of anybody, let alone obscure savages !

Also the ignorance and superstitions of primitive peoples have long worried our masters. Hence, with their almost proverbial disinterestedness, missions were organised and are now tumbling over one another in an endeavour—well backed by guns and bayonets—to enlighten the ignorant on these points and to teach them reverence for, and awe and worship of the “unknown” and the “unseen” which, rightly interpreted, mean—the Christian Capitalist.

Probably the interpretation which we place on this claim of “enlightenment” will not be seriously disputed by its authors or our opponents, and therefore we say no more about it. Who, indeed, could take seriously or see anything but humbug in such a claim, coming from a quarter where the mass of the people are steeped in profound ignorance and obsequious superstitions ? What detrimental superstition is there amongst savages that does not find its corollary amongst the so-called civilised white peoples of to-day ? Think only of the present European war with its manifold tragic phases and consequences to the age-long dispossessed “labouring poor”—horrors which would be inconceivable in any sane system of society where actual science could be diffused among the people, instead of that abominable apology that goes to-day by the name of education.

Of course, the necessity for the deliberate inculcation of the conventional lies will be sufficiently clear when we realize that the wealth and power of the bourgeoisie are bound up with and dependent upon the ignorance and superstition of the mass of wealth-producing people.

But the bluff which veils the real intentions of the colonisers is not the worst of the evil. Just as this civilisation, based, as it is, on the capitalist mode of production, has the inexorable tendency to more and more impoverish and degrade the white peoples, in the same way many, and certainly not the mere imaginary evils afflicting the coloured races to-day in tropical and sub-tropical countries, are directly due to the contact with the civilised European who “means business.” Whether we refer to the abominations of the caravan and carrying system, which condemns thousands of blacks, including women and children, to carry heavy burdens of colonial produce over tracks of hundreds of miles ; or to the revolting labour-recruiting methods, by which the unsuspecting natives are practically forced to work on plantations or in mines, often in deadly climes thousands of miles from their homelands (under conditions of which they had not the slightest notion) ; or whether we refer to the flourishing slave-traffic, pure and simple, it is obvious that those horrors were unknown in the Colonies before the advent of the rubber speculators, cocoa and tea-planters, soap-boilers and influential Christian bootblack dealers.

With regard to the last mentioned evils, we have it on the authority of, amongst many others, the British Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society, that the exercise of force to secure labour for the colonies is increasing. In an official letter to the “Daily Chronicle” (23.7.14) the said Society stated :


“To THE EDITOR Daily Chronicle.
“In view of the increase in the exercise of force to secure labour for tropical regions
, serious developments in the South Seas, and proposals now being made in British East Africa, the committee of this society appealed to Mr, Harcourt to declare publicly that in the opinion of his Majesty’s Colonial advisers forced labour for private profit is a form of slavery and will not be tolerated within the British Dominions.
“Upon this important issue Mr. Harcourt has given us permission to say that, in his opinion, the proposition contained in the society’s letter ‘that forced labour for private profit amounts to slavery appears to him to be self-evident.
“This eminently satisfactory reply brings the Colonial Office into harmony upon this cardinal issue with the Foreign Office, for to Sir Edward Grey is due this definition of modern slavery.
“At the same time we beg to point out that not only in foreign territories, for which we have treaty obligations, but even in certain British territories forced labour for private profit appears to be increasing.
“Organising Secretary.
“Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society, July 21, 1914.”

It may be left to a future occasion to record some of the ugly and harrowing revelations that have recently been made concerning the slave-traffic in various dominions, amongst others Angola, British New Guinea, the New Hebrides, and East Africa. We will only say that advertisements “seeking to buy and sell labourers” appear as freely in the Colonial Press as for any other merchandise. Mr. Cadbury, according to a statement in the “Daily Chronicle,” actually received an offer of a cocoa plantation, the “assets” of which included “200 black labourers £3,555,” and at the annual meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society, Sir Geo. King-Hall said that “the state of affairs in the New Hebrides was scandalous and disgraceful. . . . Acts had occurred in the Islands which were a blot and a slur on a chivalrous nation.”

So far, then, is the white man’s mission from improving the conditions of the backward races, that the latter’s real misery and degradation only begins at the contamination with the civilised. Indeed, the springing up of “protection societies” points to the fact, alarming to the exploiters of the Colonies, that in many districts, especially in Australia, the havoc caused through such contamination is so great that “preservative” measures form to-day a good deal of controversy.

Direct slavery, properly so-called, is, of course, not the desired ultimate aim and end of our Colonisers ; imbued, as they are, with a keen sense of responsibility in carrying out their “cultural trust,” our masters have always had an “angelic” antipathy against the exercise of force in connection with the “labour question.” The “civilising mission” will not be terminated, and the “native problem” will not be considered to be satisfactorily solved, so long as the ideal wages-system, under which the Christian nations so harmoniously and gloriously thrive and prosper, is incomplete in the Colonies.

However, we will next confine ourselves to deal with some of the methods employed for the purpose of bringing about the desired result, or—as Dr. Dernberg, the late German Imperial Secretary for the Colonies, on 22nd June last, at a visit to the London Chamber of Commerce, said : “The great question of how to deal with all mankind of darker colour ; how the white man was to retain his hold and domination over them whilst at the same time fulfilling the cultural trust imposed upon the more advanced peoples to improve the condition of the backward races.” And to set at ease these who might shrug their shoulders at what has been and what will still be said about the methods of the foreigner (as if the same did not apply to the British Dominions) Dr. H. E. Dernburg’s assurance that “whenever he was in a difficulty as to how a certain Colonial problem ought to be handled, he had found a solution in the study of British methods” will suffice.


(To be Continued)

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