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Sherman Stanley

The Coming War Will Surely See
Britain’s Colonial Empire Wrecked

The Rising Nationalist Movements for Freedom
in Every Section of the Empire
Which Guarantee the Doom of the British Colossus
Also Presage the End of Capitalism

(April 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 27, 25 April 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The financial wizards of “The City” – London’s Wall Street – are nervously fingering their money bags these days. Without exception the people of all of England’s world colonies hate and detest the British rule. These colonial people will utilize the first available opportunity – the war – to oust the British.

Many times before the British have faced opposition in the colonies. They have always succeeded in staving off the inevitable, however. One of their principal methods has been to buy off and bribe the leaders of the opposition movement, or to maneuver things so that the colonial masses are “led” by agents of the native capitalist class whose basic interests are with the British. This is what they have done for example, in India (Gandhi) and in Ireland (De Valera).

They have not hesitated for one moment to use the armed forces of the police and the British Colonial Army. The British unleash a Hitlerite reign of terror when necessary to preserve their rule. They have done this in Palestine, in Ireland, in their African colonies and especially in India.

World-Wide Fight Against British Rule

Never before, however, has colonial opposition been so solid in its determination to put an early end to British rule. Militantly conducting the struggles of today, the colonial masses grimly await the opportunities that tomorrow holds out for them. Let us cite a few examples of today’s opposition:

Ireland: A newly revived nationalist movement has shattered the sweet dreams of the British money-baggers. The Irish are starting in once again where the traitor De Valera left off. Their struggle is for a united, independent Ireland – free forever of British domination.

India: The workers and peasants of this vast country of four hundred millions are in the forefront of the struggle against British imperialism. In the past year this country has had a wave of strikes – general strikes in Bombay and Calcutta, the working class centers – militant demonstrations and actions for freedom. Represented in the Indian Nationalist Congress alone are 5,000,000 workers and peasants who are pledged to gain complete independence for their country.

The Indian nationalist movement provides the biggest headaches for the bankers of “The City.” That movement is rising over the heads of Gandhi and his conservative following. Once this is accomplished, then the British know they can kiss good-bye to “the finest jewel in the Crown of Empire.”

Ceylon: In this important and strategically located island, the left-wing Socialist Party of Ceylon is leading an aggressive and direct struggle against the British. Little news reaches the outside world of their battles. Ceylon – a pearl of “democratic” England – is hermetically sealed from without. Meanwhile, from within, the British cary on their violent attempts to crush a people who never give up.

West Indies: These islands, famed for their hurricanes, have brewed a storm too severe for the British to handle. Labor – militantly led under the banner of the C.I.O. – has organized the dock workers, sailors, sugar mill workers, etc. Wave upon wave of strikes have served notice on the British that here too they are not wanted.

Can’t Fool Them All the Time

Egypt: The British granted a fictitious “independence” to some fake nationalist politicians a few years back. They thought that these men could indefinitely fool the laborers and peasant “fellaheen.” The British, who wrote the treaty, kept control of Egypt’s foreign, affairs, financial matters and arranged for British troops to remain in the country. The thing was a fake from the word “go.” Today, the masses led by radical students, continue the struggle for independence, real independence. Chalk up another thorn in the side of the British – right at the entrance to the vital Suez Canal!

Kenya, Union of South Africa, etc. All sections of Britain’s African colonies have been stirring restlessly. Headquarters of the African nationalist and revolutionary movement, which operates directly from London itself, reports warm responses to the work of the organizers it sends out. Organization of black workers in sections of the Union of South Africa is progressing as never before. These men will show that they too understand that freedom and British rule have nothing in common.

Even those sections of the Empire that are actually independent, capitalist nations are deserting the British. So great has been the pressure of the people in Australia, Canada and the Union of South Africa against supporting England in any war that the leaders of these governments have been forced to declare publicly that they will not send any soldiers overseas to aid the British.

We doubt if these capitalist politicians mean it. But we don’t doubt that the people of these lands mean it! And their word will be the final word.

All of this spells death for the British Empire!

The most significant event in the rise of capitalism was the erection of this Empire. The most significant event in capitalism’s fall will be the destruction of that Empire. And we who live now will have the glorious opportunity of witnessing its break-up and replacement by independent, free nations of workers and peasants, associated with and aiding one another in a world socialist society.

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Last updated: 16 January 2016