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Sherman Stanley

If King George Held Court for
His Exploited Subjects at World’s Fair

(June 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 38, 2 June 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the days of feudal England the king would now and then invite his subjects to visit the court and present their grievances. This custom has lapsed for centuries.

Let us assume that George IV would hold a court of grievances when he visits the World’s Fair. His Majesty invites representative people from among his vast colonial holdings.

Each one, of course, has only a brief moment in which to speak, for His Majesty tires easily. Let us listen to some of them:

A Ceylon Tea Plantation Worker: Your Majesty, your English soldiers and officials have kept my island sealed for months against the outside world. I work on a British plantation from dawn to night for a few English pence per day. Your hired thugs are trying to smash my agricultural laborer’s union. And you are trying to smash my party, the Ceylon Samka Langh (Socialist Party). The four million Ceylonese workers and peasants are united in their determination to oust your bloody imperialist agents. Wait till you go to war! Then our opportunity will come.

An Irish Nationalist of the Irish Republican Army: I was objecting to the hold your vampire landlords and merchants have kept on Ireland for hundreds of years, your method of dividing Ireland in half and giving the six counties of Ulster to your agents, your hated army of occupation in the North. So I planted a noise bomb to draw the attention of the English workers to what was going on in my Ireland. Your judges with the false wigs sentenced me to 20 years. What was I guilty of? Agitating for the freedom of my people!

A Peasant in Egypt: Your Highness, my comrades and I are called fellaheens. We till the land in the famous Nile Delta areas. Since your troops took over our country and marched further south to conquer the Anglo-Sudan area we’ve had a pretty hard time of it. You say that your treaty of a few years back granted us independence. We don’t think so! Your troops are stationed in Egypt, along the shores of the Suez Canal, and you’ve built a fort at Laka Tana, the headwaters of the Nile, our life-blood. And you’re trying to convert our country into a one-crop country. You want us to grow nothing but long-staple cotton for your mills in Manchester. You fix the price for the cotton, too.

No, Sire, the people of Egypt don’t consider themselves free. They think there is still a long way to go before they know real independence.

A Negro Grazer in Kenya, Africa: I was grazing my cattle on the plain lands of my country. Then your police and Territorials drove us all off the land. You took our best cattle. What you left us died for lack of food. And now you make us work as laborers on these farms.

Our wives and children die like flies. We wonder what your Queen would do if her two princesses were starving. She’d do something about it and we intend to do something, too!

A Coolie Worker of Hongkong: My life is spent loading and unloading English merchant ships. I watch day after day the resources of my people being drained off in your ships. The Chinese soldiers certainly could use that food and supplies in our war against the Japanese! My brother workers in Japanese Shanghai are no better off than I am. You English hate the Japanese, but it is only because they are rivals and interfere with your own dirty work. You first taught them how to oppress us – they are only apt pupils.

When I work all day for my copper pennies and my bowl of rice, then I understand that both of you are enemies of the Chinese people.

Bantu, Indian, Negro Workers of South Africa: We toil in the South African mines, extracting gold and jewels for you. At night, when we leave the mines, they lock us up in compounds. In Germany and Italy they call these places “concentration camps.” But we had them long before they did.

Your government legislates against us in the interests of the tiny white minority. They own everything. We live like the negroes in the South of the United States. We have many more “Jim Crow” laws here than in America.

When you ask us to die for a “democracy” we have never known you will face a united answer: No!

An Arabian Peasant in Palestine: To prevent Arabs and Jews alike from seeing the real enemy, your militarists stirred up communal fighting in this land of peace. For one year now you have been conducting a violent war against us. Thousands of Arabians have died from British bullets, bombs and machine guns.

Now you want to win us to your side as part of your war plans. But we trust you no further than we would a desert snake. Your imperialists are the world’s greatest double crossers! Arab and Jew must unite against the British if either are to ever be free.

A Dock Worker, British West Indies: We dock workers have organized into militant industrial unions. This has stimulated the organization of sugar mill workers, transport workers, plantation laborers, etc. General strikes against the intolerable conditions imposed by your industrialists and landlords have swept over the West Indies. You sent down a commission which has requested some changes in the Constitution. As if legal phrases on paper will satisfy us!

Our islands have been known as the most loyal section of the British Empire. But no longer! Our loyalties go now to our brother colonial slaves – all 500,000,000 of them – who are struggling to shake off your death grip.

From the Gaya District, British Bihar Province: Your Majesty is also the Emperor of India.

When we have finished paying rent, interest of debts accumulated over an endless period, land taxes, well taxes, etc., we have absolutely nothing left. We must forage for food and clothing. Is it any wonder that our Province has the highest death rate in the world?

Your British Indian army has joined with the “goondas” of the native landlords to smash our peasant unions. But we have learned from the Russian peasant who acted in 1917.

A Jute Worker of Calcutta: In the British jute mills along the Ganges there are 200,000 Moslem and Hindu proletarians. We have fought the factory owners for years. We are India’s vanguard in the struggle against imperialism.

With a general strike, we smashed your efforts to cut our wages last year. Our unions are more powerful than ever. The British understand that the 5,000,000 industrial workers of India constitute their main threat. When we return to our slum hovels in Calcutta at night we know that it is our action you fear most of all.

A few weeks ago when our brothers around Bombay resisted your efforts to enlist hem in your imperialist army, your troops murdered 65 of them in cold blood. This is another in the endless chain of assassinations, massacres and slaughters by means of which you have strangled us for 150 years.

India has been called the brightest jewel in your crown of Empire. You took your crown and all its jewels from us. You will stop at nothing tr retain it. But the workers and peasants of India are leading the drive of the colonial masses to destroy and wipe out forever the world Empire of British imperialism.

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