K. Michaels

Colonial Freedom

(December 1954)

From Socialist Review, Vol. 4 No. 4, December 1954, p. 7.
Transcribed by Ian Birchall, Nina Kidron & Richard Kuper.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

This is the tenth and last of a series of articles devoted to the elaboration of the programme on the back page of the Socialist Review. This article deals with point 12. – Editor

Black and Tan

30,000 white settlers in Kenya are conducting a reign of terror over more than five million Africans. They can only do so because they have the active support of the British armed forces. British troops have been fighting in Malaya since the end of the World War. Malanite oppression in South Africa has the tacit support of the British Government as can be seen from the exile of Seretse Khama who sinned in the eyes of white South Africa by marrying an English girl. The people of British Guiana have been condemned by the last White Paper to decades of economic and political stagnation. White supremacy is an article of faith in the newly-formed Central African Federation. The people of Buganda are in the throes of a constitutional crisis invoked by the arbitrary exile of the head of state by the British Governor.

The British Empire is simmering with revolt against the “Mother country”; the “Mother country” can hold on to it only by force of arms, by judicial murder, by condemning it to everlasting backwardness.

Mother Country” Milks Its “Wards”

We are bombarded with propaganda about colonial development schemes; many Acts have been passed to implement them. Let us look at the balance sheet.

On the credit side. Between 1940 and 1952 a total of £140 million was allocated to colonial development of which only £66 million were ever used. This is equivalent to 1s. 6d. per head per year for the 81 million people in the colonial territories. Even under the Labour Government no more than 2s. 0d. per head per annum – less than ½d. per week – was spent on “developing” the colonies. Even then most of this ½d. per week as spent on building roads, railways, electricity plants, etc., for private British (and U.S.) capital.

The other side of the balance sheet is this, total sterling balances of the colonies “frozen” in London amounted to £1,042 million by the end of me, 1952 – more than 15 times the sum spent on colonial development. For every 9d. the British government “gave” so generously it “borrowed” and refused to repay – one pound sterling.

That is only one half the story. The huge monopoly concerns which operate mainly in the colonies are among the giants of British Capital. Shell’s profits last year totalled £130 million, Unilever (British section only) made £46.3 million, and hosts of smaller giants like Booker Bros., Tate and Lyle, etc., managed to make their millions. All this adds up to very much more per year than the £66 million that have been “poured” into the colonies during the last twelve years.

Empire Impedes Struggle for Socialism

The colonies are a source of tremendous strength to the monopolies of Great Britain.

Colonial Freedom

For every penny invested, pounds are extracted in profit. The very wealth they squeezed from the destitute African and Asian peasant is presented to the British worker as the margin between prosperity and penury in Britain; it is used to bribe the British worker into a false feeling of solidarity with his boss. The struggle for colonial freedom is said to threaten the privileged position of the British worker.

Not a bit of it. The very importance of the colonies to the British capitalists is the measure of the blow British capitalism will suffer through their break away to freedom. Every blow dealt to British capitalism is one more step in the direction of socialism. Our natural allies in this struggle are the colonial peoples; their fight to escape death by imperialist suffocation is the counter-part of ours to escape death by hydrogen-bomb warfare. The anti-imperialist struggle in the colonies will help us. We can help them by demanding the

“Withdrawal of British troops overseas; freedom for colonial peoples and offer of economic and technical aid.”

Last updated on 16 February 2017