Mauritius Times 60 Years Ago – Colonialism Fading 

Everywhere the free forces of the world are intent on achieving national independence. And everywhere the reactionaries are trying to delay the emergence of freedom

The Bandoeng Conference of Asian and African countries gave a great fillip to the forces of anti-colonialism. Since the Conference, former dependent territories have been striking blows for freedom — Jordan sacked Glubb from his important Army post. Egypt has consistently showed her distaste for entanglements in the orbit of dependence on America. The latest manifestation of the spirit of Bandoeng is the general election in Ceylon, where the left-wing Freedom Party has so roundly trounced the subservient United Party. No longer are Asian countries content to be dependent or ruled by governments at the beck and call of the hitherto occupying powers.

Colonialism is on its way out, and is being replaced by free association based on mutual trust and interests. Free association works; force majeure doesn’t. That lesson has still, apparently, to be learned by France who persists in regarding her colonies through nineteenth century eyes. (That noble son of France, N.M.U. of course, has eighteenth century eyes). Nor has the lesson of Bandoeng been entirely learned by either the USA or the UK Colonial Office — if it has been learned by those in control of affairs there, we shouldn’t have had the deportation of Makarios from Cyprus, nor the intervention in the domestic affairs of sovereign states which characterizes United States’ policy vis-a-vis Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines, to name but three countries.

Everywhere the free forces of the world are intent on achieving national independence, on being able to determine their own destinies. And everywhere the reactionaries are trying to delay as long as possible the emergence of freedom. The Colonial Office hampers the emergence of pan-Mauritian consciousness and a ruling Labour government by its reactionary suggestion of Proportional Representation which is designed, as the dispatches on the constitutional proposals show, to weaken Labour representation in the Legislative Council.

The attitude of the reactionaries to anti-colonialism is summed up by writers in the issue of International Affairs for February 1956: “…imperialist groups fear representation institutions, above all in those countries where the representation of the working class and the working peasantry have considerable influence. Therefore, the reactionary elements are trying to reduce bourgeois-democratic freedoms to a minimum and to prevent the people’s representative from taking part in the work of parliament.”

Money-power is the means by which the imperialists have so long held sway throughout the dependent territories. The machinations of international finance led to the armed invasion of Guatemala and the overthrow of a legally elected democratic government by thugs led by Guatemalan traitors and financed by the Yanks. The fears of the imperialists for their profits led to the suspension of the Constitution in British Guiana and the overthrow of the popular Government. New Zealand’s Labour governments have notoriously been hampered by reluctance in financial circles in London to subscribe to loans.

The power of international finance is shown by the reaction of the London Stock Exchange to the Ceylon election results — shares in Ceylon tea and rubber estates fell immediately Mr Bandaranaike’s victory became known. Why? Because money and profits are more important than self-determination, than the sacred right of a people to govern themselves and to do what they (not foreign capitalists) want with their own country. The fall in share values is a reminder to Mr Bandaranaike that capital, not democracy, rules in the City of London — and that his government will be in for a sticky time. Certainly his government will be misrepresented, and in some cases willfully misrepresented, in the gutter press as “Red”. (Such misrepresentation has indeed already begun. It is the same sort of misrepresentation that whipped up feelings against Cheddi Jagan in certain newspapers; the same sort of misrepresentation that shrieks ‘Hindu Hegemony’ over and over again, like a parrot, even when shown the utter falsehood and calumny of its shrieks).

The enemies of self-determination are fighting a rearguard action. They seek to retain political control by whatever dubious means they can. In Kenya, in Central Africa, in the six countries of Northern Ireland, we see political justice denied by rigging of the voting lists or by gerrymandering of constituencies, or by restricting the right to vote to people whose skins are of the “right” colour. And when the signs of irredentism, of the people’s desire for independence, of nationalism, become strongly apparent, then the imperialists try and give the people some palliative to soothe them and to distract their attention from their political aims and ideals.

The Romans gave the people circuses; the classic policy for distracting attention from shortcomings at home is to go to war — or at least to threaten a war. The Tories are adept at this.

 

 

*  Published in print edition on 27 October 2017

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