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Since August 2000, The Legacy of Colonialism Forum was primarily an Email list. An email archive was previously available. However, since Dec 2019 Yahoo finished hosting user-created content.
A very small selection of the most prominent posts which went out on this email-list have been republished further down this webpage.
In the shadow of Rhodes (article published in The Guardian on 14/1/21).
Read the Lead-Article for the Legacy of Colonialism Forum:
Colonial vicissitudes & the final passage of 20th Century Capital
Recommended cross-reference: Report on the seminar on “How historians address the Legacy of Colonialism” at the University of Johannesburg on 5 March 2018
Foil Vedanta‘s report on the legacy of extractive colonialism in Zambia: “Copper Colonialism: British miner Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia“
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 (the most egregious example being the highland clearances) to build up a mass of “rent seekers”, which 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 legacy of colonialism manifests in the widespread and entrenched poverty and underdevelopment of nations in Africa, Central America, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Far-East, particularly some of the poorest nations on Earth such as those within the African continent, and perhaps most staggeringly, Haiti. In Africa, after the post-war wave of independence, owing to the fact that these economies were (and still are) underdeveloped, economic management was geared to the drive for exports from the primary sector (commodities). Underdevelopment has obviously been the most pronounced and widespread legacy of colonialism (though there is some debate as to whether or not amongst some African States, underdevelopment was exacerbated by failed policies of socialist centrally-planned economic models followed, causing major inefficiencies* which were addressed by the multilateral institutions).
[*the hypocrisy of the multilateral institutions is exposed in their addressing of the inefficiencies in the economic management of African States through the 1980s into the 1990s within ‘Structural Adjustment Policies’, wherein whilst protectionism of state industries in African States were dismantled, agricultural protectionism in the North is sustained.]
In Africa, development challenges remain deep and long-standing – notably lack of infrastructure and geographical challenges such as lack of access to sea-ports for land-landlocked countries such as Niger and the Central African Republic. However, further to this position of weakness, post-independence relations with the developed countries (“the North”) can be described as having transitioned to neocolonialism. What may be termed ‘neocolonialism’ has been a long-term process exacerbated for decades by debt peonage and distortions in global trade which in some cases has resulted in deteriorating terms of trade for many years. World market distortions caused by high tariffs for processed products originating from countries of the south being exported into developed world markets/trade blocks has historically skewed the playing field of world trade against the Global South, with the US and nation states of the EU, whilst benefiting from their respective protectionist agricultural support arrangements, having commandeered non-mutually beneficial international trade practices facilitated via the liberalization of trade and investment in agriculture via international agreements within the World Trade Organisation through Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements. The North has exploited this political arrangement, allowing countries in the EU and the US to sell their grains on world markets – driving down price (good for the urban poor in the Global South, but bad for grain exporters in developing countries).
The means by which neocolonial relations have sustained beyond post-colonial independence in countries across the South have been in tandem with the monopolizing acts of transnational corporations across the world. The structural dynamics of the global food system are such that, whilst liberalisation of commodity trading on world markets magnifies market volatility, the trade is nevertheless dominated and in some sectors monopolised by transnational agribusiness corporations (TNCs), with farmers across the world at the mercy of bulk-commodity supply TNCs who source production from anywhere in the world. Widespread adherence to neoliberal structural adjustment policies (policies of austerity) has deepened this neocolonial 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 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].
Read Also: The Conversation: Britain should stop trying to pretend that it’s empire was benevolent
One Legacy – The re-colonisation of Africa (click here)
Globalization Wiping Out Languages, Natural Links
See also: Chagos Islands fight shows the toxic legacy of British colonialism in Africa
In a landmark ruling which is apparantly not legally binding, only “advisory”, the UN’s International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that Britain’s rule over the Chagos Islands has been unlawful.
History of Palestine – largely retrieved from “Dossier on Palestine”, ‘Shunpiking Magazine’, Vol.7, No.43 – October 28th 2002 (p-205) Ibid, Shunpiking
Review by Anthony Sattin, The Observer (13 November 2016): “The Man Who Created the Middle East” by Christopher Simon Sykes,
A sympathetic biography of the Edwardian diplomat Sir Mark Sykes by his grandson can’t disguise his bumbling role in carving up the Arab world
The Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction The UK Enclosure Movement in 16th and 17th Century Britain laid the groundwork for a massive colonial empire to grow as the British and other imperial powers spread this logic of wealth extraction across the globe.
First ever email on the Legacy of Colonialism Forum email list, 27th May 2000:
Canary Wharf & The Slave Trade
To subscribe to the LegacyofColonialism Forum e-mail group, visit: http://www.yahoogroups.com/subscribe/LegacyofColonialism You can join it by clicking on the email webpage link and clicking on ‘Join Group’ (if you don’t have a yahoo-id, you will have to create one, by clicking on ‘sign-up’)
The Legacy of Colonialism Forum seeks to make these links between previous imperialist systems of injustice and the current processes driving the world economy. The unremarkable recognition is made that the same underlying process of expropriation and profit for the benefit of a few has been the driving-force underpinning both the ruthless colonial looting that occurred in Africa, Asia, Eire, Latin America and the West Indies, and present-day corporate investments that rely on speculation without respect of labour or environmental standards. For example, at the Cavite Export Processing Zone in the Philippines, 207 factories purely dedicated to producing export brands such as Nike, IBM and Gap recently employed 50,000 workers, who worked 12 hour days in military-style underpaid drudgery. The only difference now is that the whole process is accelerating at an alarming rate, wholly because the debt-based money system generates more and more perceived “value” on stock markets, within financial trading, and in the ever-faster rates-of-return of speculative investments. And this acceleration process continues because the money system based on debt is spiralling out of control, as we are also attempting to explore.
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