Slavery & imperialism were the means to achieve the ends, of sustained world domination by a few big players in the world economy. Without it, nation states, multinational corporations and banks would not have the power base they enjoy now at the start of the 21st century. Private capitalists, monarchs and feudal Lords waded through blood to colonise country after country and loot these countries’ human and natural resources. For example, eminent Indian economist Professor Utsa Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has estimated that Britain robbed India of $45 trillion between 1765 and 1938. It is a process that continues today in Africa if one cares to delve into the recent history of what has happened in the Congo. See also: The Plunder & Depopulation of Central Africa & Copper Colonialism in Zambia
The original motives for the colonial mission were plainly expressed by Cecil Rhodes, the ‘founder’ of “Rhodesia”. “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories”. [From “The Ecologist”, 1992].
By way of example, the British Empire was simply an extension abroad of the exploitation of the British people by royalty and the privileged few which had been going on in England systematically since the time of William the Conqueror. Furthermore, there was the colonial power’s imposition of models of enclosure upon countries of the South ie. sociological/cultural trends in the North’s historic development in terms of the systematic policy of kicking people off commonly managed lands to build up a mass of “rent seekers” combined with other factors such as the systems suite of business innovations (double-entry accounting, fractional reserve banking, the joint-stock company, etc.) to advance the capitalist system’s ability to capture value and systematize wealth extraction.
In reference to Africa, direct colonial control of African territory meant African societies were transformed into monoproduct/monocultural economies, with each society tasked to produce commodities either mineral or agricultural for European markets. Colonies were meant to be self-sustaining and yet produce a surplus that could be repatriated to the metropolitan country. Colonial subjugation occurred through colonial peoples being dispossessed of their means of production (following a similar pattern to the process of land expropriation of the victims of land enclosure in the UK in the 17th century) and/or through the monetisation of African societies to seek employment in the colonial economic sector to pay various taxes that were levied on them by the colonial powers (words courtesy of Tokunbo Oke – 1st paragraph of article taken from ‘Kilombo’ featured below).
Courtesy of Kilombo Magazine – July-Sept 2006 Issue
Post-colonialist Africa, characterised by land areas previously divided by colonial rulers into territories on a map, has since World War II witnessed a legacy of civil wars, military-coups, and crises of disorder and chaos. Blame for this “disorder” can be largely put at the door of continued imperialist interference in the domestic politics of countries, (for e.g. whereas the cold war situation saw political destabilisation in country after country throughout the African continent, such as in Angola, where the US financed the Unita rebels while the Soviets funded the MPLA government, post-war interference has been just as telling, for instance the US’ backing of Uganda and Rwandan rebel insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo owed much to connivance between US imperialism and multinationals to grab control over the region’s vast mineral wealth). Every ruler knows that as soon as the profit margin of the transnational giants starts to fall, an ambitious army officer or chief of some oppressed tribe will be found to replace them. Thus they are driven to ever-greater excesses of brutality to ensure the constant supply of profits.
In the Middle East, with the outbreak of World War I (which was a war between rival capitalist empires – Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empires, against the British, French and Russian imperial entente), the latter 3 Imperial powers carved up the region between them as the British took advantage of the assurances independently negotiated by T.E. Lawrence who had promised the Arab tribal leaders/sheiks all of the Ottoman territories, on the proviso that if they fought with Britain against their Turkish rulers, the British would support the creation of an independent Arab state after the war. However, at exactly the same time, the British, French and Russian foreign ministries were secretly signing the Sykes-Picot agreement. The colonial powers created Arab protectorates and outright territories, drawing the borders of states in such a manner as to ensure that there were oil-rich territorial states with small populations and oil-scarce states with large populations
The means by which neocolonial relations have sustained beyond post-colonial independence in countries across the South has been under the wing of multinational collusion through the substitution of direct colonial control with indirect neocolonial relations based upon concentration upon the export-orientated primary production economic model amongst virtually all of the Global South. Widespread adherence to neoliberal structural adjustment policies has deepened this trend, enforced through the carrot of debt-cancellation as a bargaining tool to relieve the financial burden of the so-called “Third World debt” (the accumulated compound interest on non-existent capital which – in Africa – was paid to corrupt leaders). The North’s capitalist advancement (led by the USA) occurs at the expense of the Neo-Colonial state, a process which is sustained by the fierce worldwide market domination of multinationals over global commodity markets (80% of world trade takes place in ‘value chains’ linked to transnationals). It is safe to say that world market prices are largely set in the stock exchanges of the North. Meanwhile, financial deregulation – the removal of barriers-to-entry to financial speculation – as enforced by global institutions (eg. the International Monetary Fund & World Bank) has occurred around the world to serve the interests of those countries in the North.
One burning question for the developing world as it seeks freedom from this very modern enslavement of a one-way traffic of shareholder return and human resources to the developed North is, how can they sustain independence from the colonial legacy that is western financial capital attached to dubious conditionality? THE LAND IS OURS believes that part of the solution is unconditional debt cancellation so that countries such as Indonesia caught within debt entrapment are not pressured into maximising export sales at the expense of environmental considerations (by the start of 2005, Indonesia had accumulated a total externally-owed (multilateral) debt of $95 billion – 57% of her GDP*). In the case of Indonesia, pressure to export has meant pressure to maximise yield of the cash-crop Palm Oil at the expense of destruction of rainforest areas to clear the way for more plantations. Eliminating this pressure, the alternative could be the rural impoverished enjoying redirected resources towards rural development including sustainable institutions working in their own interests (smallholder agricultural research, village-scale irrigation projects, forest-biodiversity protection zones ..etc).
[*Note: Indonesia’s multilateral debt-service as of 2014 was 15%. The Indonesia account balance as of 2014 was $27,485,312,561.source Indonesia’s External Debt as a percentage of its GDP reached an all-time high of 58.3 % in Dec 2003, reducing to 34.2 % of the country’s Nominal GDP by 2016].