Judd (Stanley) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Sherman Stanley

How Britain Rules Its Vast Colonial Empire

The Plunderers of a World Domain Who Imposed the Iron Heel
of Exploitation on 500 Million Colonial People
Have Taught the Fascists the Use of the Concentration Camp
and the Fierce Despotism of Military Might

(April 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 26, 21 April 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The British have the reputation of being the world’s best colonizers.

The 500,000,000 colonial people scattered throughout the world arid who are on the receiving end of this colonization agree. They agree that when it comes to stealing the last bit of gold, thinking up new taxes for starving peasants, creating inhuman conditions for factory workers, there is no one who can hold a candle up to the British.

After the World War, Germany’s African colonies were taken over by the British. The African natives who have lived under the imperialist rule of both England and Germany have a saying that the only difference between the two is that the British can’t do the goose step!

Started Concentration Camps

The British originated the idea of concentration camps during the Boer war when they penned up thousands of their prisoners.

To this very day, thousands of miners who toil in the mines of the Union of South Africa are locked up each night in “labor compounds” which are policed by British troops.

In Indian cities like Calcutta and Bombay, native factory workers return to homes – after an average 10-12 hour day – that possess no water or toilet facilities; no bathtubs; no cooking equipment – nothing but mats on stone floors.

Who gains by this constant exploitation?

Certainly not the masses of people who live in the colonies! They are ground down by such permanent misery that death becomes a way out for them. India has the world’s highest death-rate for the newly-born. All of the English colonies are breeding places of the diseases that accompany malnutrition and famine, such as bone diseases in all forms, tuberculosis, hook worm, plagues, etc. The Technique

When the British take possession of a colony they do a thorough job of it.

First their soldiers establish military authority over the defenseless people. Then they make an agreement with a minority section of the native population which they transform into servants of the British imperialists. Finally – after they have purged the population of all those who object and have filled all the available jails – the British begin to rule.

The plunderers load British ships with the wealth of the country. Gold, jewels, textiles – they take everything. It is calculated that at least $50,000,000,000 worth of material was removed from India during the 19th Century.

One-Crop System

British landlords, plantation owners, real-estate investors begin operations on the peasantry. With British thoroughness, they oust the peasants from their lands and drive them to work in the cities or mines. They force the people to stop producing food necessities (that is, with the exception of food products that are needed in “mother” England) and organize profitable one-crop systems. Thus, the Indian province of Bengal has an overwhelming majority of peasants who grow nothing but jute, the

price of which is fixed by the British. Wheat, flour, beef, butter, wool, hides, rubber, etc. are all imported – at British prices – from the other colonies. Where the British permit any sort of industrial growth they make sure it remains in their hands only. British capitalists and bankers own the gold mines of South Africa, the coal and iron mines of India, the jute mills of Calcutta, the textile plants of Bombay, the sugar refineries of the West Indies. The transportation and public utilities systems of all the colonies are in their possession. Between $800,000,000 and $1,000,000,000 is the annual profit made by the British from their investments in India. Have you seen in newsreels the flashing Crown Jewels of the British King and Queen? That’s the blood and sweat of countless peasants and workers, miners and factory-hands.

From Both Ends

And to these colonies the British export – at not too small a profit – an annual average of $1,500,000,000 worth of manufactured goods in the form of textiles, machinery, etc.

This is the British Empire – the landlord beating down the native peasants; the mill-owner standing at the back of the native worker; the merchant driving his shrewd British bargain and reaping his profits that are based upon a worldwide “preferential” tariff system.

Over and above all of them stands the financier, the banker, the super-imperialist of “The City.”

Imperial “Civilization”

The only schools ever organized by the British in their colonies have been schools for use by the English community or the children of natives who work hand-in-glove for the British.

In India, 300,000,000 people cannot read or write any language.

The British never seriously attempted to raise the cultural level of any of the backward peoples they have enslaved. They have never attempted to root out primitive customs, backward religions and superstitions.

Nor should we expect them to do so! Ignorance and exploitation go hand in hand. A British imperialist once remarked: “A coolie (the common British expression for a colonial worker) who can read is worse than a free man, because he can free others!”

“Democracy” in the Colonies

According to the new Constitution the British are attempting to install in India, 500,000 people will be eligible to vote! One-half a million out of 375,000,000!

All sorts of property qualifications, communal divisions, etc. are put in the way of voting.

And even the mildest nationalist parties are outlawed if they show any signs of gaining strength. The colonial people can no more vote for candidates of their choosing than, the workers of Germany or Italy can.

Where local parliaments do exist, as in India, their teeth are pulled in advance by laws that render them powerless.

And these parliaments are invariably stuffed and packed by Englishmen or their agents, who exercise automatic control.

There is no more democracy in a British colony than there is in a Nazi concentration camp! Military-police dictatorship is the system that rules. If this were not so, the colonial peoples would have cast out the hated British rulers long ago.

Judd (Stanley) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 January 2016