The purpose and method of colonisation

(Continued from last issue.)

“There are some 830 millions of the neo-Caucasian race of the world, who are either uncultured or backward or retrograd in their mode of life, who stand at present entirely aloof from our civilization, who in the eyes of most white men are helots, without rights to be maintained or feelings to be considered. At the present time these 830 millions of black, brown, and yellow men are unable to wage war on the white man on anything like equal terms. To his aggressive advance they can only oppose a passive resistance ; often they are quite without defence against his conscious or unconscious cruelty. Out of this total of 830 millions of backward peoples at least 365 millions dwell within the limits of the British Empire or its sphere of political influence. If we are going to—I will not say exterminate, for that is now impossible—make the lives of 365 millions of black, brown and yellow human beings miserable and serf-like, so that by degrees they dwindle and die out, are we so sure that we can plant in their places an European population which will prove as suitable to climate and surroundings ? . . . It is very doubtful whether the white man can exist there in large numbers . . . and whether he can suffice for the agriculture and the mass of the work of development. . . . We must, therefore, protect, educate, uplift and encourage the aboriginal population.”

Thus spake Sir Harry Johnstone at the Annual Meeting of the Anti Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society on April 23rd, 1914.

Although Sir Harry accuses “most white men” of looking upon coloured mankind as “helots” whose rights and feelings need not be considered, it is pretty evident that for all practical purposes only “our pioneers of colonisation” can be meant— those who have been in the past and are row actually treating the coloured races in this manner ; those who have been and still are waging war upon them to which they cannot reply upon “any thing like equal terms” ; those who, “consciously or unconsciously,” perpetrate cruelties against them.

The phrase “most white men” can only refer to shareholders who do not despise dividends made by torturing innocent human beings in a manner the world had never known before—to a ruling class which has filched the lands of nearly half the coloured peoples, and under whose sway slavery is increasing and millions have already been forced into reserves and compounds. But for an Imperialist to accuse his fellows of disregarding the natives’ rights and feelings is not only an extremely grotesque case of ye pot calling ye kettle black, but also betrays him for the ignoramus and humbug that he is. For none other would suggest that a civilisation based on the right of might, and into the range of which the “backward peoples” must be brought, by fire and sword, is compatible with maintaining the rights and considering the feelings of the weaker.

How, indeed, would our Imperialists establish their civilisation in the colonies if the natives there were to retain their rights to their land ? What would become of capitalist enterprise, and where should the supply of labour come from, if the natives’ rights to the unrestricted use of all nature’s gifts as means of subsistence, were to remain unchallenged ? Is it possible that a policy of scrupulously respecting the feelings of the natives in the matter of industry, and mere theoretic teaching and encouragement, could solve the “labour problem” ? Would it not be a calamity striking at the very roots of civilisation, and making all commerce and progress impossible, if the natives were at liberty to cease work when they had produced enough to “provide their ordinary and very primitive requirements of subsistence” ? Where would their Worships’ profit and dividend come in ?

In fact, as the recent commission upon native labour in East Africa pointed out, the main contention of the planters there is that there is an ample supply of labour in the Protectorate, and that the only difficulty in the way of making them emerge in sufficient numbers to work for the white man, is the comparative affluence.

Of the forces now engaged not more than five per cent. come from the ranks of the well-to do. YOU furnish the remaining ninety-five per cent. YOU have to bear the infinitely greater proportion of the deaths, the disease, the permanent injury and the awful strain, while those who goad you on with sweet words or threats, rest securely and comfortably in their easy chairs in club or office, killing the enemy every day with their mouths, but taking particular care, in the vast majority of instances, never to risk their precious carcases within a hundred miles of the actual conflict.

We Socialists would therefore ask you to put on your considering caps and think for yourselves, instead of allowing the capitalist Press, Tory, Liberal, and sham Labour, to think for you.

When the war is over, and you are tramping the country, as you will be in many cases ; when you and those near and dear to you hunger and thirst; ; when you feel the whip of semi-starvation and the gaunt spectre of want is your daily companion, will your “King and Country” need you then ? Does not your daily experience teach you that you have no country, that you are landless and propertyless ? Does it not show you that here, as in Germany, the land and its fatness belong to the masters, your portion being a mean tenement in a mean street, with the bare means of existence, and then only if you are lucky enough to get work ?

When the bosses ask you to fight—to offer your livss for “democracy and liberty against militarism” ; when they pose as the defenders of oppressed people, and express themselves deeply concerned to uphold justice, humanity, and right, ask them why it is that they have so long practised in England—practise to this day—the tyranny and oppression they now denounce abroad.

The present British Government, the “champions of liberty,” through their then Home Secretary, Churchill, prepared, previous to the railway workers going on strike, and turned out at the request of the railway magnates, no less than 58,000 troops, crushing by militarism the attempt of those workers to slightly improve their admittedly rotten conditions of existence.

This Government, “the apostle of humanity,” during the last London Dock strike—when the men merely asked that agreements previously entered into by the Government itself should be honoured—placed at the disposal of the capitalist Devonport and the gang around him, an unlimited supply of police and military, and deliberately starved the women and children, in some cases to death, in order to break the resistance of the men.

This Government, the “defender of freedom, the upholder of justice, and right,” endorsed martial law, the denial of all liberty and the firing on defenceless crowds in S. Africa; it batoned 700 men in Dublin, turned out the military against YOU at Belfast, Llanelly, Leith, the Rhondda valley and elsewhere ; it has callously refused to give underfed children sufficient food ; it mocks with pretty words, but cynical, brutal inaction, the condition of the ever-growing army of unemployed ; it has sanctioned wholesale imprisonment, exile and butchery, in India, Persia, Egypt, and the New Hebrides, and allied itself with the infamies perpetrated in Russia and Japan : in a word, it reeks with lying pretence and self-satisfied Pharisaism, for in very truth, it is the ever-willing tool of autocracy, capitalism, and class rule and the deadly enemy of the working class everywhere.

Ask this or any capitalistic Government for their credentials, examine their records, and you will learn that, beyond all dispute, whether it be England or Russia, France or Belgium, Germany or Japan, there is, so far as YOU are concerned, no difference between them whatever. They are all made in the same mould, filled with the same lust—the lust of exploiting YOU. “When it suits them they flatter you ; but when you ask them for a little of the justice they now prate about, then they insult, imprison and often murder you. To-day they want you badly, for they are at war with each other and want YOU to do THEIR dirty work; but remember that whoever wins or loses, your lot will be the same; the politician will still soft-soap you ; the industrial machine will still grind you, and poverty and all that it means will still enchain you.

If, therefore, you are wise, if you are really anxious for freedom from slavery, then look around you here, and you will soon learn the truth, that it is your class which is denied this freedom, and denied it by the very class who now call upon you to act. One law for the rich and one for the poor. Adulation, servility and the world’s wealth for the rich ; grinding toil, insecurity and eternal hardship for the poor—these are the commonplaces of every-day life. Is it not so ?

Your duty, then, is to fight against this, and the only way you can fight successfully is by understanding your position in society, realising that wars and hate, malice and theft, oppression and greed, class rule and the travail of the workers the world over, are to-day born of capitalism. This is the root evil ; it is this you have to war against if you would be free, for all else is futile; and when you do this, BUT NOT BEFORE, then liberty will be with you as your possession ; there will be no oppressed peoples, for the might of the working class, organised consciously for the overthrow of the modern octopus, will have conquered, and the international commonwealth will be here.

F. V.

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