Colonialism: A Global History interprets colonialism as an unequal relationship characterised by displacement and domina
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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Introduction: Approaching Colonial Phenomena
Introduction – Further Resources
1 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave
Chapter 1 – Further Resources
2 The Atlantic Slave Trade
Chapter 2 – Further Resources
3 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires
Chapter 3 – Further Resources
4 Empire By Settlers – The Third Wave
Chapter 4 – Further Resources
5 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave
Chapter 5 – Further Resources
6 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave
Chapter 6 – Further Resources
7 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression
Chapter 7 – Further Resources
8 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945
Chapter 8 – Further Resources
9 Decolonisation: Conceded Or Conquered?
Chapter 9 – Further Resources
Conclusion: Colonial Legacies – Underdevelopment and Postcolonial Violence
Conclusion – Further Resources
Colonialism: A Global History interprets colonialism as an unequal relationship characterised by displacement and domination, and reveals the ways in which this relationship has been constitutive of global modernity. The volume focuses on colonialism’s dynamism, adaptability, and resilience. It appraises a number of successive global colonial ‘waves’, each constituting a specific form of colonial domination, each different from the previous ones, each affecting different locales at different times, and each characterised by a particular method of exploiting colonised populations and territories. Outlining a succession of distinct colonising conjunctures, and the ways in which they ‘washed over’ what is today understood as the ‘Global South’, shaping and reshaping institutions and prompting diverse responses from colonised communities, Colonialism: A Global History also outlines the contemporary relevance of this unequal relation. Overall, it provides an original definition of colonialism and tells the global history of this mode of domination’s evolution and reach. The broad chronological and geographical scope makes this volume the ideal resource for all students and scholars interested in globalisation, colonialism, and empire. Lorenzo Veracini teaches history and politics at the Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. His research focuses on the comparative history of colonial systems. He has authored Israel and Settler Society (2006), Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (2010), The Settler Colonial Present (2015), and The World Turned Inside Out (2021).
Colonialism A Global History Lorenzo Veracini
Cover image: Charles Zuber, ‘Tidal Wave’ First published 2023 by Routledge 4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2023 Lorenzo Veracini The right of Lorenzo Veracini to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-367-50640-7 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-50638-4 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-05059-9 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599 Typeset in Sabon by Newgen Publishing UK
This one is for my girls: L, M, and E
List of Figures List of Maps
Introduction: Approaching Colonial Phenomena
1 Europe’s Expansion –The First and the Second Wave
2 The Atlantic Slave Trade
3 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires
4 Empire by Settlers –The Third Wave
5 The Imperialism of Free Trade –The Fourth Wave
6 The Imperialist Scramble –The Fifth Wave
7 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 130 8 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945
9 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered?
Conclusion: Colonial Legacies –Underdevelopment and Postcolonial Violence
0.1 Leandro Izaguirre –The Torture of Cuauhtémoc 0.2 Fry’s Chocolate Cream Bar, 2014 1.1 Massacre at the Festival of Toxcatl: Duran Codex or History of the Indies of New Spain 2.1 Stowage of slaves diagram of the British slave ship Brookes under the regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788 3.1 Shah Alam II, Mughal Emperor, Conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, August 1765 3.2 A half-woman-half-skeleton representing free trade. Colour lithograph by Tom Merry, 21 November 1886 4.1 John Gast, American Progress, 1872 4.2 Migrant family travelling by foot on highway, Oklahoma 1939 5.1 ‘The Devilfish in Egyptian Waters’: An American cartoon from 1882 5.2 British ships attacking a Chinese battery on the Pearl River during the first Opium War, 1841 6.1 The Conference of Berlin, as illustrated in Illustrierte Zeitung, 1884 7.1 Cartoon by John T. McCutcheon for the Chicago Tribune, April 1920 8.1 The Japanese Occupation of Seoul, 1904 9.1 Guinea Stamp Issue, circa 1961 10.1 US President Barack Obama meets Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, 2009 10.2 Teddy Roosevelt and subjected individuals at the Natural History Museum, NYC
13 14 32 50 68 69 85 86 106 107 125 142 157 175 192 193
.1 1 2.1 4.1 5.1 6.1 7.1 8.1
The First Global Colonial Wave, circa 1450–1600 The Second Global Colonial Wave, circa 1550–1800 The Third Global Colonial Wave, circa 1630–1930 The Fourth Global Colonial Wave, circa 1800–1882 The Fifth Global Colonial Wave, 1882–1919 The Sixth Global Colonial Wave, 1919–1960s The Japanese Colonial Wave, 1868–1945
34 52 89 109 128 145 159
Introduction Approaching Colonial Phenomena
Colonialism is an unequal relationship predicated on displacement, on a movement across space.1 It is one of many possible unequal relationships involving individuals and collectives. Class, gender, race, ability, generation, status, language, accent and style, ethnicity, sexual preferences, and religion are all significant vectors of difference, and they all typically sustain unequal relations. And different unequal relationships always mix in dynamic ways. Capital too can be understood as a social relationship sustaining a profoundly unequal relation. But colonialism is premised on violence as well as displacement; it is displacement that produces two distinct locales, metropole and colony, but it is violence that enables colonial dispossession and appropriation. Violence is what makes colonialism an unequal relation. No violence, no colonialism. Thus, displacement and violence are the two necessary ingredients that sustain colonialism as an unequal relation.2 It is violence that produces the structural inequality between coloniser and colonised; indeed, it is colonial violence that constitutes coloniser and colonised in the first place. Displacements that are not accompanied by violence are conducive to different relations and different subjectivities; host and guest, for example. A body of water separates metropole and colony, but there is spatial separation within colonial settings too. For example, in a typical colonial plantation populated by planters and slaves, the white house is on the hill and the barracks are below, at the bottom of the hill. When it comes to the relationship between distinct polities, colonialism and ‘blue water’, the deep sea, typically go hand in hand, and even the United Nations’ definition of colonialism was predicated in the 1960s on the image of a stretch of blue water separating colonising metropole and not yet independent colony or already independent postcolony. Then again, this was just one definition, and a body of water also unites locations as well as separating them, as in the case of Ireland and Algeria and their respective metropoles located just across a narrow sea.3 There are many different types of colonialism, and very different demands are made of colonised individuals and collectives once the DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-1
2 Introduction unequal relationship is established through displacement, violence, and the resistance that inevitably accompanies these processes.4 Physical, spiritual, sexual, military, scientific, and many other types of labour are demanded of the colonised, at times simultaneously, and often in a contradictory fashion.5 This is why there are so many possible colonial formations, as we will see: dependencies, protectorates, dominions, client states, crown colonies, informal colonies, ‘domestic dependent nations’, and many more. At times, no labour is primarily required of Indigenous peoples –only their land. Thus, while different possible relationships are covered under the umbrella definition of colonialism offered here, it does not really matter who exactly displaces, even if typically it is the coloniser that travels temporarily or permanently away from the metropole and towards the colony. At times, both coloniser and colonised displace, the former more or less voluntarily, the latter forcibly (this happened in the plantations of the ‘New World’ across the water, and elsewhere in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific). At times the coloniser does not even displace to the colony but benefits from colonialism while residing in the metropole –it is goods exchanged in the context of unequal terms of trade that move. Colonial regimes often rely primarily on local collaborators. And even when it is the colonised who moves to the metropole, the colonial relationship is not ultimately transformed: inequality remains a structural feature. This has been the case in relation to the postwar migration of colonial subjects towards the European metropoles, for example.6 Inevitably, however, colonial regimes steal the country of colonised peoples. Stuart Hall, who knew about displacement and colonialism, and who had migrated to Britain from Jamaica to pursue his scholarly career, argued that the colonised subject is always from somewhere else.7 Different colonialisms, however, aim towards very different relational outcomes. Sometime colonial regimes aim to reproduce themselves –to perpetuate the unequal relationship across time substantively unchanged. On the other hand, settler colonialism, a mode of colonial domination where resident colonies are established by populations emanating from the metropole or from a variety of metropoles, aims to extinguish itself as a relationship –to terminate Indigenous political autonomy if not the Indigenous populations until there is no relation. Many colonisers absolutely need colonised peoples. German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who focused on relations, and critics of colonialism Albert Memmi, Jean Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, and Amílcar Cabral all agreed on this point, even though they would have agreed on little else.8 But settler colonisers operate according to a ‘logic of elimination’ –they are typically not interested in managing colonial heterogeneity and profit. The settler colonisers aim to extinguish a relation of subjection and to profit from its extinguishment.9 In other words, colonisers periodically reinstate the ‘rule of difference’ separating coloniser and colonised (they reinforce this ‘rule’ in a variety of ways), while settler colonisers reproduce several ‘neo-Europes’ by erasing
Introduction 3 difference (they erase it in a variety of ways).10 They both fail in the long run, as we will see. *** During the heyday of the colonial/imperialist era –at the beginning of the twentieth century and before WWI –there were colonies of settlement and colonies of exploitation. They worked differently, but both were expressions of a world made by colonialism. There were several land empires too, and some of them were dominated by non-European cores. Many kept expanding, sometimes aggressively so, even if most of them eventually entered a crisis.11 ‘Empire’ was a much more ancient relationship of domination than colonialism, even if by then as a relationship between distinct polities, economies, collectives and individuals, colonialism had been going on for more than four centuries. Like colonialism, empire is also underpinned by necessary violence and by the spatial distinction separating the imperial core, the imperial seat, and the periphery, a multiplicity of subjected provinces. Which raises an important question: is colonialism qualitatively different from empire, should the two modes of domination be studied and appraised separately? The two unequal relationships are indeed similar, they often overlap, and are often understood as synonyms. They are both an expression of unequal relations of course. But there are also significant differences –they could be seen as two different product lines, even though they may be placed in the same aisle of the supermarket.12 Profits accrue differently under empire and colonialism. As a general rule, a colony primarily offers profitable trades; an imperial province primarily offers tribute. Imperial relations are typically about tribute –tribute flows towards the imperial seat as the imperial ‘pax’ flows outward. Colonial relations are typically about trade, seaborne, unequal trade. This distinction is ancient, but generally holds when pursued in an outline of the global history of colonialism over the longue durée. The poleis of ancient Greece, veritable colonies of expatriates, traded with the metropole but were independent. Conversely, the colonies Rome established with its own citizens in foreign locations were often exempt from paying tribute, even if they were not autonomous (they benefited Rome in other ways, including military service and strategic control). Even if not all trade is necessarily unequal, it almost inevitably is, and for many reasons: because of violent appropriation –armed trade is quite common, as we will see –because of monopolies that are violently enforced, and because, as Marx described, of the ‘silent compulsion of economic forces’, a compulsion that is inevitably premised on violent processes of appropriation. Thus, a colony is not an imperial province, even if an empire can also possess colonies, and even if most provinces and colonies end up offering both tribute and opportunities for unequal exchange. It also depends on language: in French and German the term ‘empire’ is used in very different ways than in English, ways that reflect different histories of state consolidation,
4 Introduction economic development, modernisation, and engagement with international markets. A republic can possess an empire (i.e., the French Third Republic), and even a trading concern can turn itself into an empire, as it happened after 1757, when the British East India Company became a tax collecting entity in Bengal on behalf of the Mughal emperor (it would eventually become a conquering polity relying on land taxes more than a trading concern). Land taxes in agrarian land empires are quite different from revenue arising from tariffs on commerce, or from state involvement in commerce (i.e., the issuance and enforcement of trading monopolies). The former are tribute, the latter revenues that accrue through the exploitation of networks of unequal exchange. This is why, as empire, colonialism rarely proved long- lasting, and why some historians have been able to claim that imperialism and colonialism were overall unprofitable undertakings, possessions very rarely worth pursuing from a fiscal point of view.13 But the two modes of domination mix, the point here is to define two modalities of power to better frame their overlap, contiguity and interaction. Trade is a tool of empire in one case, while empire can become a tool for crafting conditions for profitable trade in the other. Land empires are often suspicious of merchants. Moreover, in political terms, imperial responses are often coordinated policy decisions taken at the imperial centre. On the contrary, distance and the de facto autonomy of the colonial men-on-the-spot means that responses to challenges are extremely localised under colonialism. For a while –during the era of ‘high imperialism’ –the terms were typically used interchangeably, but at the time it made sense: the colonies of the previous centuries had primarily been about unequal exchange, but the ‘new’ imperialism influentially denounced by J. A. Hobson in 1902 now often relied on tribute because a spate of preclusive occupations had resulted in colonies that did not yet have a colonial economy. Tribute was then seen as a temporary alternative to unequal exchange; the plan was to grow the colonial economy and then profit from it in more colonial and less imperial ways.14 Not only empire and colonialism are functionally distinct, even if they mix in heterogeneous ways; the formation of the landed Eurasian empires preceded the colonial empires set up by the Euro-Atlantic states by several centuries. Indeed, it has been argued that as large landed empires were blocking the expansion of the would be colonial powers, the latter found it more profitable to pursue sea-focused expansions rather than land-focused domination.15 Moreover, an imperial province is typically a semiautonomous unit –its economy can be diverse; it must be productive so that it can be fiscally profitable and thus pay tribute to the imperial administration. Hence, a former province can become independent after the fall of empire without significant disruption. A colony, on the contrary, is dependent economically as well as politically. Hence postcolonial independence has been comparatively more difficult than postimperial independence, as political independence is undermined by ongoing economic subjection.16
Introduction 5 Tribute can be withheld or redirected, but the unequal relations of exchange that colonialism built often remain and indeed worsen after independence. The distinction between empire and colonialism was insightfully articulated by Stephen Howe in a short book entitled Empire, which is comprised of essentially two essays, one about land empires, and the other about ‘Empire by Sea’.17 Howe’s definition of empire is that it is characterised by absolute sovereignty (an empire is a polity that acknowledges no overlord or interference), that it is composite (one result of being a polity or a collection of polities defined by an imperial ‘core’ and ‘peripheries’), and that its diversity is never that ‘of equals’, since the periphery is by definition dominated by the imperial core and by the emperor within it.18 Established through violence, imperial domination is maintained through violence.19 On the contrary, Howe sees colonialism as linked to ‘ideologies of white racial superiority’, but not necessarily linked to the activity of a state (empires, on the contrary are sustained by imperial states that levy taxes and wage war).20 For Howe, fiscal apparatuses more than anything else define empire: tribute flows in cash, in kind, or in slaves.21 Empires, Howe notes, often collapse when they reform or modernise, as the Spanish one in the Americas at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire during the second half of the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the Soviet one in the 1980s.22 Modernising imperial reformers often pursue unsustainable fiscal policies; their imperial polities collapse as a result. Empire fails when tribute ceases to flow, but colonialism falls, at least theoretically, when the socio-political distinction separating metropole and colony is discontinued; for example, when the violence that is typically admissible in relation to colonised ‘others’ is then inflicted on colonisers too, as for example Antillaise anticolonialist intellectual Aimé Césaire intuited when considering WWII.23 Thus the global history of colonialism can be seen as bookended by two fateful moments: European armies crossed the strait of Gibraltar in the fifteenth century to establish unequal relations of domination in Africa, and a colonial army crossed it in the opposite direction in 1936, to conquer the metropole and pursue a civil war that subjected the metropolitan populations with a violence that had been until then reserved for restive colonised subjects. But if empire is primarily about tribute and colonialism primarily about profits accruing from unequal transactions, the retreating colonisers of the twentieth century did not end colonialism by displacing back to the metropole. Similarly, internationally recognised independence did not undo subjection. Even if there are a few exceptions (for example, a few former colonies could turn themselves into ‘Asian tigers’), the structural inequalities have typically remained. Empire falls when the subordinate relationship between imperial core and periphery is broken, when postimperial independence becomes irreversible, but colonialism fails when the colony becomes like a metropole, at least ostensibly: a nation, like the metropole, led by leaders educated in Western
6 Introduction universities, like the leaders of the metropole, leaders who speak the language of the colonisers and aims to modernise their polities in their own right. So, colonialism at times ends up in neocolonial mimicry, but the legacies of colonialism are way more difficult to undo than those of empire, as we will see. Howe concludes that colonialism ‘was thus a self-defeating enterprise, in that it introduced –however slowly and grudgingly –into its possessions both the ideas and the social forces which were to bring it down’.24 The opposite is also true: colonialism leaves behind a type of subjection that is very hard to undo. Yet again, trade and tribute are also often concomitant and are rarely easily distinguished from each other. Often the colonisers exact tribute, but for ideological reasons prefer to dress it up as trade. At times, it is trade that is exacted as tribute (for example, an ‘embassy’ may bring gifts to a distant sovereign in the reliable expectation of significant reciprocation). At times, colonisers exact tribute because they cannot trade. Tribute initially flowed from the Spanish possessions in America primarily because profitable trades could not be established. Conversely, unequal trade is often monopolistic, and monopolies by definition are a form of rent-seeking tribute. Indeed, a colonial relationship is essentially a monopoly: when the metropole monopolises a colony’s trades and political relations (then again, ‘free trade’ under very unequal conditions is ultimately a form of monopoly). Tribute can be destructive or affordable, it is always stunting, but, as we will see, trade shatters and transforms: ecological balances, landscapes, societies, local productions, and cultural traditions. Where colonial trades are unavailable, for example, wherever Indigenous people are uninterested in exchanging their manufactures with European goods, a community of settlers may set up shop and then trade with the metropole or its colonies. Unequal trade actively de-develops the colonies and their economies –it may ‘modernise’ them, as it has often been pointed out in the context of modernisation debates, but it does so for the purpose of their subordinate integration in international networks of trade. Conversely, Krishan Kumar has argued that empire and colonialism should not be conceptually separated, and that the comparative appraisal of empire and colonialism enables the inclusion of non-European empires in the analytical framework.25 Kumar warns against ‘the danger of seeking too precise a definition of colony’, and against ‘trying then to pry apart colony from empire’, adding that we ‘should beware of treating colonies as distinct from empires’.26 If we understand colonialism as a subset of imperialism, he concludes, then the comparative possibilities are likely to be extremely productive. This analytical move will enable a historical sociology of colonialism. Then again, there is a geographical distinction between ‘colonialism’ and ‘empire’, Kumar avers, citing F. A. Kirkpatrick’s 1906 conclusion that the ‘story of empire, of dominion over rich and populous cultures, apart from any considerable European emigration, deals chiefly with the commercial and political conquest of India and other Asiatic lands by Europeans’, while ‘the study of colonization deals mainly with the migrations of Europeans into the New World’.27 And there is
Introduction 7 a chronological distinction too, as noted by Michael Adas, whom Kumar also quotes. The literature often relegates ‘many non-Western examples’ of empire, Kumar continues, ‘such as China and Mughal India, to the archaic realm of empire’, whereas ‘Western colonialism is world spanning’ and ‘ “empires” are more restrictive cases of largely regional expansion, involving the conquest of neighboring peoples and states’. The ‘East had empire in abundance (“Oriental Despotism”), but it lacked colonialism’, Kumar concludes.28 My suggestion is that we may see empire and colonialism as simultaneously distinct and enjoined. We may see both as unequal sets of relationships relying on a fundamental displacement: they often overlap even if benefits are accrued differently, and even if the sea lanes that primarily characterise colonialism are not the imperial road networks that typically characterise the imperial polity. Blue water, a nonspace separating two locations, makes colonialism different from empire. The ‘imperial road’ implies a different spatial organisation, a different political geometry: contingent, traversing varied geographies and their diverse populations. Not so colonialism, which is more prone to embrace and enforce radical binaries. And it seems important that for many of the practitioners of each mode of domination empire and colonialism were radically different modes of domination, even if to a contemporary observer they look somewhat similar.29 Importantly, these distinct relations of domination have different socio-ideological outcomes: one may accommodate subordinate nationalities and heterogeneity, whereas the other is premised on forms of racial ‘othering’ (even though there are various types of racism and even if forms of racism may have predated colonialism).30 Most importantly, as we will see, colonialism, unlike empire, which is arguably less flexible, is a shape-shifting relation that reproduces and supersedes itself at once. This is why a global history of its development over the longue durée is warranted. *** There are two fundamental shapes a ‘colony’ can take. This distinction is mirrored by the way ‘colonialism’ and cognate terms are used in the languages of western Europe. ‘Colonies’ are one result of an ability to extend domination and/or are entities that reproduce. But domination and reproduction are not the same thing, even if they are not mutually exclusive. There is thus a profound ambiguity in ‘colonialism’ and related terms in most European languages (and in the contexts and ways in which they are used). ‘Colonialism’ derives from the Latin word colere, meaning to cultivate. A colony is thus often ‘planted’, and ‘plantation’ was once a term designating colonies overseas, even if this metaphor had been disused by the early twentieth century. The Roman empire planted colonies for all sort of reasons – geopolitical, commercial, and to ‘pacify’ subjected regions. Sometimes restive populations had been deported away from a specific region, and someone had to inhabit the area and pay tribute. Besides, demobilised legionaries may be kept at a distance in colonies far from the seat of empire to avoid social strife. On the contrary, the ancient Greek tradition of colonialism had
8 Introduction produced immediately independent polities: the city states of the Hellenistic world. The former colonies primarily dominated; the latter reproduced. It is a relation, but it is a complex relation. Colonialism involves at least two parties: two sites (the ‘metropole’ –a Greek term meaning ‘mother city’ – and the colony), and two agencies or subjectivities (the ‘coloniser’ and the ‘colonised’), even if there are, as Homi Bhaba has explained, hybrid forms and ‘third’ spaces, locations that undermine the dichotomies of colonialism that Frantz Fanon, on the contrary, had emphasised.31 Individuals, as well as territories, can be colonised, but there are more dyads involved by this relationship: two economies, two cultures, even two psyches.32 The colonial relationship generates and sustains the binaries that hybridities undermine, while colonial binaries and hybrids coexist in dynamic ways. Importantly, there are many colonisers: settlers and sojourners, colonists, missionaries, traders, explorers, bureaucrats, and military personnel despatched overseas. And there are many colonised collectives. These subjectivities are all constituted by colonialism; they are relational: for example, the ‘natives’ are only natives in relation to those who were born elsewhere, the ‘indigenous’ peoples are only ‘indigenous’ in relation to exogenous settlers, and so on. This is obviously not to deny that all these collectives existed in themselves prior to the colonial encounter; they existed and often thrived, but not as participants to an unequal relation that reconstituted them. These collectives are constituted by distinct experiences, as well as ‘encounters’. There is the ‘middle passage’ for people that are colonised and nonindigenous to the sites where they are forcibly deported, and there are subjugated Indigenous peoples, people that are dispossessed and remain in their homeland (they often face ‘removal’ and forcible exile somewhere else). And the colonialists issue very different demands: they may seek wealth, glory, souls, recognition and vindication back home, a renewed sense of their manhood or womanhood, a renewed sense of community that they feel was lost where they are coming from, and much more. In short, as we will see, there are numerous modes of colonialism: cultural colonialism, informal colonialism, crypto-colonialism, neocolonialism, corporate colonialism, postcolonialism, even ‘waste’, ‘digital’, and ‘eternal’ colonialisms.33 In all these instances, colonialism as a relation constitutes multiple subjectivities. A global narrative of the development of colonialism over the longue durée is warranted also because colonial displacement by definition connects separate locales and –together with capitalism, another unequal relation, another relation premised on violence, even if it is a relationship that is not premised on displacement, as it is instead focused on the unequal ownership of the means of production –connects the globe.34 While the history of colonialism is also the history of capitalist globalisation, this book outlines a global history by focusing on a succession of distinct global colonial ‘waves’ and their ebbs and flows (and their overlaps, and their interaction and often simultaneous operation).35 The waves were distinct, and
Introduction 9 yet the various colonial formations we will encounter in this book were related: the plantations in the Americas, the English manufactures, the Asian and African trading posts, and the North American settler farms and trading posts, were all part of a single interconnected and intensifying global colonial world. The waves were distinct, but there was a single body of water, so to speak. Narrating this global evolution is not new, of course. For example, ‘World System’ theory also tells a global history and demonstrates that different locations must be understood in their relationship and in their reciprocal interaction.36 However, World System analysis does not focus on colonialism in particular, and privileges the historical study of economic exchanges. Colonialism: A Global History takes a complementary stance and considers the ways in which the history of colonialism overlaps with the global history of capitalism and other global histories: the history of ecological transformation –the ‘Columbian Exchange’ was theorised in the early 1970s –and the more recently conceptualised irruption of a new era, the ‘Anthropocene’.37 *** A wave moves across space, it displaces. It is a displacement that conjoins colony and metropole as it brings them into existence. Metropole and colony are separate spatially, ideologically, and one gets richer as the other is spoliated, but neither can be understood without the other because both only come into existence because of the other. It is a relational predicament: each existed before as a specific socio-geographical locale but was transformed as a result of the relation having been established and of its operation. It is thus important to emphasise that colonialism does not only happen in the colony; it also happens in the colony. Colonialism happens simultaneously in separate locations. The separate locations, and their politics, and their peoples, and their freedoms and unfreedoms, thus, are ‘intimately’ connected.38 If one focuses primarily or exclusively on the colony, or on the colonised individual, or on the colonised collective, one runs the risk of normalising the coloniser and the metropole, which is a profoundly colonialist approach. It should be resisted. Moreover, a wave often invests with force; it crashes violently. Violence is both foundational to colonialism and defines its ongoing operation: it can be murderous and senseless, it can be rationally dispensed, it can be threatened or promised, it can be exemplary. When we hear about ‘peaceful settings’, about peaceful colonies, we should inquire into the violent processes that established a ‘silent compulsion’ in the first place. Who can do colonialism? According to the definition adopted in this book, whereas colonialism is a relation premised on displacement, anybody can do it, even though Western Europeans have done it more than others and more often, as we will see. Where can colonialism happen? Everywhere, even though ships are usually involved, and even though colonial empires are usually seaborne (as noted above, colonialism is often marked by ‘blue water’). When can colonialism happen? Anytime: for example, during
10 Introduction classical antiquity, or even today, even though the global history outlined in this book begins in the second half of the fifteenth century because it was at that time that ships and guns were assembled together in a systematic fashion. It was at that time that displacement became possible in a new way, and when reliable oceanic navigation had become possible. Domination also became possible in a new way at that time. New guns made the difference. There were precedents before modern blue water colonialism and there was globalisation before the onset of colonial globalisation. The ‘precolonial’ commercial middlemen interacting with Europe were Swahili, Arab, Gujarati, Malabari, Malay and Chinese merchants.39 The Crusader states were ‘protocolonial’; the Italian maritime republics controlled semi-sovereign ‘factories’ in the Levant, that is, overseas, and outside of Europe. Pisa’s commune, for example, a sovereign entity that is born at sea and then ‘lands’ and becomes territorialised, led a ‘crusade’ against the Balearic Islands before the Crusades, then held what could be seen as the first European ‘colony’ in Sardinia.40 The expansions of the Vikings in the north Atlantic was in many ways colonial, and so was the Christian Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula that began in the eleventh century. But with the ‘discovery’ and conquest of the Atlantic Islands, the Canary Islands before the other ones, the relationships involved in domination become recognisably ‘colonial’.41 It is remarkable that the different modes of colonial domination were all developed very early on in the global history of colonialism. In the Canary Islands, Indigenous genocide was followed by re-population with settlers. In Madeira, an archipelago originally uninhabited, a mixed population with settlers and slaves was planted; in Cabo Verde, the population consisted mainly of imported slaves; in the Azores there was a mixed colonial mode. Madeira would be an early laboratory of plantation colonialism. It became a model that was then exported to Brazil and from there it would go global. In the Canary Islands there were experiments with the encomienda system of labour extraction. This model would be later exported to the Americas, in Hispaniola first, the island that today is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and then in the continental mainland.42 In turn, this system of labour extraction had antecedents in Moorish Spain and in the fourteenth- century sugar plantations of Cyprus.43 When does colonialism end? According to the definition of colonialism proposed here, only when substantive and ontologoical equality is restored. This was Fanon’s intuition.44 During the second half of the twentieth century, during the age of ‘decolonisation’, displacement –the movement across space of colonisers and colonised and of tradable goods –was easier than it ever was, even if in some ways the competitive advantages of oceanic travel over other modes of transport had been drastically reduced, and violence was still ubiquitous, even though anticolonial insurgencies could rely on somewhat improving odds on the battlefields. And yet, formal domination was no longer profitable, or at least not as profitable as available alternative
Introduction 11 modes of domination. So, it was largely discontinued, even if ‘neocolonial’ arrangements and other forms of informal domination through the operation of capital flows and the institutions of the ‘Washington Consensus’ are equally violent and equally unequal. If modern colonialism can be seen as having a beginning and an end, it also had a heyday. The Opium Wars of 1839–1842 and 1856–1860 could be seen as the apex of colonial domination, when the power of the western European polities over their colonised or semicolonsied counterparts was most unassailable (and, as a consequence, when the power of Western Europeans over other humans was most unassailable). These wars were fought for the purpose of ensuring that a state-supported cartel trading in narcotics could continue its business undisturbed. If a sovereign is biopolitically meant to ‘protect’ its subjects, Chinese subjection to Britain and many other powers in the ensuing period, characterised by what are generally referred to as ‘unequal treaties’, epitomised a fundamental denial of sovereignty.45 But if colonialism ended, and whether it really did, remains debatable. If it did, it did so very recently. A few possible events marking its ultimate demise include the retrocession to China of Hong Kong and Macao in 1997 and 1999, or multiracial elections in South Africa in 1994, or even in 2007, when the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was finally approved (then again, very recently the Northwest Passage, for a long time a colonial chimera, became navigable for the first time –reaching Asia by way of ‘westering’ was Columbus’ plan after all –so perhaps colonialism triumphed after all). In any case, even if these events are considered to be marking the actual end of colonialism as a relationship defining international relations, and it remains an open question, the legacies of colonialism are still everywhere.46 But whether we live a global postcolonial condition, or whether we are facing a ‘colonial present’, there is no disagreement that colonialism made the world we live in. Besides, distinguishing whether we are facing ongoing colonialism, or the legacies of past colonialisms, is a moot point because inequality is both the outcome of and a condition of possibility for colonial relations. Why does colonialism happen? An inexhaustible demand for commodities makes it profitable. ‘First’ and ‘second’ wave colonial commodities, as we will see, focused on sugar (and rum and molasses), tobacco, cotton, indigo, rice, ginger, and cocoa. Tea, textiles and especially spices (pepper, nutmeg, mace, cloves, and cinnamon) came from the east. Spices are a crucial food preservative, especially in the absence of refrigeration, and are important medicinals, while sugar, tea, coffee, and tobacco are highly addictive (besides, sugar was in high demand because European workers in rapidly expanding European cities labouring in newly established factories needed extra calories). The European market for cheaper textiles was also inexhaustible. As we will see, each colonial wave relied on a specific commodity, and all relied on commodification: turning something (or someone) somewhere, whether extracted or processed (or kidnapped), into something
12 Introduction tradeable somewhere else. For the West Indies it was sugar; for Virginia it was tobacco, for Australia it was wool, and the list could go on. A slave could cost up to nine times in the islands of the Caribbean what he or she was worth in Africa. The profits arising from colonial trades were astounding, especially considering the limited alternatives for capital investment. Technical advantages also make colonialism possible, and comparative disadvantages make it, from a coloniser’s point of view, necessary. Monopolies make colonialism possible, and monopolies and their violence are one fundamental way in which colonialism operates. Colonial monopolies compensate for a lack of competitiveness (one needs to rely on a monopoly to stay in business if their competitors are better prepared), or for high risks. The most violent colonisers are those who cannot rely on favourable terms of trade –they seek tribute. Portugal was the first and the last explicitly colonial power; it defended its colonial empire until the bitter end because it would have been unable to profit from neocolonial arrangements.47 How does colonialism happen? It is a long story, as we will see, but basically, with gunboats. A ship carrying guns is an incredible machine: a technological wonder, indeed an assemblage of technologies. A gunboat is extremely concentrated power, it projects and focuses violence with precision. A gunboat is also a laboratory of modern sovereign forms, characterised by a highly sophisticated division of labour. It has been seen as the forerunner of the factory. And it is a device requiring significant capital accumulation and sophisticated financial instruments to operate (i.e., insurance, shares, etc.).48 Chinese technologies at first matched and excelled both Western artillery and navigation, but the two technologies remained largely separate, and Chinese junks travelled and transacted, but did not pillage. This is one possible way to explain the ‘Great Divergence’ between China and the West (as we will see, the global history of colonialism is in many ways the story of the rise and fall of the divergence between these two geopolitical regions).49 A gunboat is also prodigiously mobile; it literally displaces, both because it moves across space and because displacement is a measure of its carrying capacity. And it is tremendously violent; it can wreak havoc undisturbed unless one is able to place defensive batteries protecting one’s fortifications. A gunboat is the epitome of mobility and violence. It is a quintessentially colonial device.50
Introduction –Further Resources 1) ‘The Martyrdom of Cuauhtémoc’, a nineteenth- century painting by Leandro Izaguirre
Figure 0.1 Leandro Izaguirre –The Torture of Cuauhtémoc © Artefact/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: the episode represented here happened in 1525, but the picture was produced in the nineteenth century. This scene represents a tragedy in the visual language of Classical Greek tragedy, an idiom the viewer that is implied in its composition would have known very well. A most unequal relation is depicted here –one character stands literally above the other, even though they face each other directly: in a way they recognise each other. The emperor is despoiled and immobilised as he is being tortured –an apt allegory for colonialism. He is surrounded and betrayed ... In the picture, the humanity of the colonised is proclaimed, but this proclamation is not anticolonial –it depicts something that is too far away to be redressed. This image belongs to a particular tradition of colonial denunciation of colonialism. The ‘Black legend’ about Spanish colonialism was produced and used for ideological purposes by other colonisers (i.e., the Anglophone and protestant colonisers, who promoted it for their own propagandist reasons). Even if it was based on truth, colonialism is brutal, and the Spaniard conquistadores had been especially ruthless, the black ‘legend’ epitomises the paradox of a colonialist type of anticolonialism. Examples of ‘anticolonial’
14 Introduction colonialism in the global history of colonialism include Dominican Friar and ‘Protector’ of the Indians’ Bartolomé de las Casas’ defence of the humanity of his charges against accusations of inhumanity brought forward by ‘scholars’ who had never been to America or ever seen an Indian, Multatuli’s denunciation of Dutch colonialism and many more.51 More generally, as we will see, colonialist and anticolonialist representations mix: the creole independentists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century proclaimed their freedom from colonialism as they enslaved colonised others (see Chapter 4), the German public discovered ‘decolonisation’ after it lost its colonial empire with the Treaty of Versailles (see Chapter 7), the Japanese and Italian interwar ‘antiplutocratic’ and ‘anti-imperial’ colonialisms were in many respects even more violently and aggressively colonial than their counterparts (see Chapters 7 and 8), and even the many postcolonial native colonialisms that followed independence targeted ethnic minorities within the borders of the postcolonial state in colonial ways (see Conclusion). 2) Fry’s Chocolate Cream Bar, 2014
Figure 0.2 Fry’s Chocolate Cream Bar, 2014 © urbanbuzz /Alamy Stock Photo
Note: Originally, cocoa was used for religious ceremonies by the Aztecs and Maya. They believed that it had divine origins; and that the cocoa tree was a bridge between earth and heaven. While The Aztec emperor Montezuma would drink chocolate before visiting his harem, cocoa beans were currency and could be used to pay tribute (they would be used as currency until the nineteenth century). This was highly sophisticated finance: cocoa beans are perishable, so as currency they worked exceptionally well because they could not be hoarded and lost their value over time. Inflation thus occurred naturally, sustaining economic activity. Cocoa, is the quintessential colonial commodity (look at the year the wrapper reproduced above displays: 1761). It was a momentous year, when British hegemony in India was assured after French defeat, and when British hegemony was consolidated in North America. The labour that would have grown the cocoa and the sugar that went into the making and
Introduction 15 commercialising of chocolate was enslaved. Cocoa could only be grown in some colonies. And it could be mixed with another colonial product, sugar, which is a great idea. Milk, or cream, as the image reproduced above reminds us, could be mixed with it, which is another great idea. Moreover, cocoa could be processed in the metropole, and it could be mixed there with what the metropole was making. Cocoa thus linked colony and metropole like very few commodities could (tea also did: and the English became accustomed to adding milk and sugar to their tea, which may horrify those who grow tea, but makes a lot of sense if you make milk and own sugar colonies). Colonialism produces hybrid foodscapes and profoundly transforms consumption patterns. Curries are now common in the UK, the French introduced bread to Viet Nam … . Brussels proclaims itself today to be the world’s capital of chocolate; Dutch chocolate is not bad; while Swiss chocolate demonstrates that one can be embedded in networks of colonial exchange and not necessarily have one’s own colonies (Switzerland did not have colonies, even if it did spawn many colonists). Today global cocoa production is defined by profoundly unequal exchanges: cocoa farmers earn very little, human rights are routinely abused, unsustainable practices are widespread, and the descendants of the colonisers enjoy great treats. A handful of global corporations control the global market, while production is concentrated in a few very poor countries (Ivory Coast and Ghana make more than half of the world’s cocoa). 3) Make Chocolate Fair: http://makechocolatefair.org; International Cocoa Organisation: https://www.icco.org.
Note: ‘ICCO is based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, but its ‘daily process’ refers to the London exchange in commodity markets. Make Chocolate Fair is a European-based campaign. Question: What displacements are at stake in the relationships involved in the operation of these two international organisations? 4) Movie for discussion: The Battle of Algiers (1966) Note: This is an explicitly and militantly anticolonialist movie. Question: Would a similar representation of a violent insurgency be possible today? 5) Introduction –Main Points 1) Colonialism is an unequal relation; it is defined by violence and displacement. 2) There are many unequal relations, and they mix in dynamic ways. 3) There are many colonialisms –colonialism is a shape-shifting mode of domination.
Notes 1 This book is premised on a relational understanding of colonialism. It is not an unprecedented approach, of course. French sociologist Colette Guillaumin seminally concluded in the 1960s and 1970s that ‘racism’ and ‘race’ follow a relationship of appropriation, that is, colonialism, and that the choice of focusing on a signifier (i.e., the colour of someone’s skin) depends on a specific relation of subjection. For her, it is racism as an ideology that creates ‘race’, not the fact of racial difference that prompts racism. In other words, it is not because someone is black that they are appropriated and enslaved; on the contrary, it is because they are appropriated and enslaved, that is, because they are subjected to colonialism as a mode of domination, that they are ‘black’. It is only then that the colour of their skin becomes significant. There is thus a material and relational foundation in the construction of racial difference, she argued, while ‘race’ only acquires a specific meaning in the context of a relation of appropriation. Guillaumin was therefore suspicious of what we would call now identity politics and related revendications of difference: for her, what raced (and sexed) collectives have in common is not that they are different, but that they are appropriated. Her conclusion was that their collective existence is relational, not absolute, and certainly not ‘natural’. No human group exists in itself, she argued, and all groups depend on the relationships that determine them (most often relationships of domination). Guillaumin did not focus specifically on colonialism, the moment of appropriation, but this book does. Besides, as Patrick Wolfe concluded, ‘race is colonialism speaking’. See Colette Guillaumin, Racism, Sexism, Power and Ideology, London, Routledge, 1995; Danielle Juteau-Lee, ‘Introduction: (Re)constructing the categories of “race” and “sex”: the work of a precursor’, in Colette Guillaumin, Racism, Sexism, Power and Ideology, London, Routledge, 1995, pp. 1–28; Patrick Wolfe, Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race, London, Verso, 2016, p. 21. 2 If colonialism is an unequal relation, colonisation can be seen as the material and institutional reality accompanying that relation (i.e., as we will see throughout this book, and this is not an exhaustive list, the subjugation or denial of sovereignty, the robbery, the enslavement, the exploitation of labour, the exploitation of forcibly obtained favourable terms of trade, the racial domination, the cultural destruction, and the land theft). Similarly, anticolonialism can be seen as a fundamental demand to dissolve or reorder that relation, while decolonisation and decoloniality can be seen as the material and institutional realities that prompt that dissolution or reordering. 3 The ‘Blue Water Thesis’, or the ‘Salt Water Thesis’, emerged victorious over the ‘Belgian Thesis’ at the United Nations in 1952. The British had also similarly complained about the ‘saltwater’ fallacy when negotiating with their American counterparts during WWII. UN Resolution 637 was endorsed by postcolonial nations and by the superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union. They all agreed: decolonisation was about someone else’s empire. 4 See, for examples, Marc Ferro, Colonization: A Global History, New York, Routledge, 1997; Juergen Osterhammel, Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, Princeton, NJ, Markus Wiener Publishers, 2005; Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2005; Robert Aldrich, Kirsten McKenzie (eds), Routledge History of Western Empires, London, Routledge, 2014. For classical approaches to the colonial
Introduction 17 ‘situation’, see Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized , New York, Souvenir Press, 1974; G. Balandier, ‘The Colonial Situation: A Theoretical Approach’ , in Immanuel Wallerstein (ed.), Social Change: The Colonial Situation, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1966, pp. 34–61. For a typology, see Nancy Shoemaker, ‘A Typology of Colonialism’, Perspectives on History 01/10/ 15 (available at: https://www.historians.org/publications-anddirectories/persp ectives-on-history/october-2015/a-typology-of-colonialism). 5 See Ann Laura Stoler, Frederick Cooper, Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997. 6 Sanjay Patel, We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire, London, Verso, 2021. 7 Stuart Hall, ‘Minimal Selves’, in A. Baker, M. Diawara, R. H. Lindeborg (eds), Black British Cultural Studies, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 114–115. 8 For multiple approaches to these themes included in a single volume, see Pramod K. Nayar, Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology, Hoboken, NJ, Wiley, 2015. 9 This was Patrick Wolfe’s seminal intuition. Patrick Wolfe, ‘Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native’, Journal of Genocide Research, 8, 4, 2006, pp. 387–409. 10 On the colonial ‘rule of difference’, see Partha Chatterjee, ‘The Colonial State’, in Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1993, especially pp. 14– 34. On the ‘neo- Europes’, see Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2004. 11 Peter C. Perdue, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Asia, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2005. 12 On the distinction between continental empire and maritime colonialism, see Wolfgang Reinhardt, ‘Empires, Modern States, and Colonialism(s): A Preface’, in Dittmar Schorkowitz, John R. Chávez, Ingo W. Schröder (eds), Shifting Forms of Continental Colonialism: Unfinished Struggles and Tensions, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 1–21. See also Kris Manjapra, Colonialism in Global Perspective, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2020. 13 Lance E. Davis, Robert A. Huttenback, Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire: The Political Economy of British Imperialism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986. 14 On the ‘new’ imperialism, see Philip D. Curtin, Imperialism, New York, Walker & Company, 1972; Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Theories of Imperialism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982; D. K. Fieldhouse, Colonialism 1870–1945: An Introduction, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1988; Philip D. Curtin, The World and the West: The European Challenge and the Overseas Response in the Age of Empire, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992; Paul Gillen, Devleena Ghosh, Colonialism and Modernity, Sydney, University of New South Wales Press, 2007; Jonathan Hart, Empires & Colonies, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2008; T. R. Getz, Heather Streets-Salter, Modern Imperialism and Colonialism: A Global Perspective, Boston, Prentice Hall, 2010; Jane Burbank, Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2011. For an authoritative outline of most imperial formations, see Peter Fibiger Bang, ‘Empire –A World History: Anatomy and
18 Introduction Concept, Theory and Synthesis’, in Peter Fibiger Bang, C. A. Bayly, Walter Scheidel (eds), The Oxford World History of Empire; Volume One: The Imperial Experience, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 1–56. 15 See William McNeill, Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force and Society since 1000 A.D., Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1983; William McNeill, The Age of Gunpowder Empires, 1450– 1800, Washington, DC, American Historical Association, 1989. 16 Leigh Gardner, Tirthankar Roy, The Economic History of Colonialism, Bristol, Bristol University Press, 2020. 17 Stephen Howe, Empire: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002. 18 Howe, Empire, pp. 13, 15. 19 Howe, Empire, p. 16. 20 Howe, Empire, pp. 27, 37. 21 Howe, Empire, p. 42. 22 Howe, Empire, p. 54. 23 Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, New York, Monthly Review, 1972 . Césaire pointed out that French policies in Algeria, Indochina, and Madagascar hardened during WWII and in its aftermath because of the French experience of occupation and its violence during WWII. It was an attempt to restate colonialism in the face of its existential crisis. 24 Howe, Empire, p. 108. 25 Krishan Kumar, ‘Colony and Empire, Colonialism and Imperialism: A Meaningful Distinction? Comparative Studies in Society and History, 63, 2, 2021, pp. 280–309. 26 Kumar, ‘Colony and Empire’, pp. 303, 304. 27 Quoted in Kumar, ‘Colony and Empire’, p. 283, n. 2. 28 Kumar, ‘Colony and Empire’, p. 301. 29 See, for example, Albert Galloway Keller, Colonization: A Study of the Founding of New Societies, Boston, Ginn & Company, 1908. 30 Geraldine Heng asserts that we must theorise race in ‘deep time’ rather than focus on its being coterminous with ‘modernity’, for the latter approaches do not explain ‘the tenacity, duration, and malleability of race, racial practices, and racial institutions’. Geraldine Heng, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018, p. 23. 31 See Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, New York, Routledge, 1994, p. 38. 32 Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, London, Vintage, 1994. 33 Robert J. C. Young, Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001. 34 Alex Anievas, Kerem Nisancioglu, How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism, London, Pluto Press, 2015. 35 Two notes are warranted here. First, I am aware of the normalising power of metaphors –this is what ideologies do: make human choices seem natural and therefore beyond deliberation. If I describe the expansion of colonialism as a ‘wave’ it is to emphasise its destructiveness and its diffusion through space out of a specific location and certainly not to imply that it is somewhat a natural phenomenon. Second, I originally developed this heuristic metaphor before the release of The Fifth Wave, a successful series of young adult postapocalyptic
Introduction 19 novels and movies. Yet again, the novels do tell the story of a series of exogenous invasions, just like this book does. 36 Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, New York, Academic Press, 1974. See also the Journal of World Systems Research: http://csf. colorado.edu/jwsr/ 37 Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492, Santa Barbara, CA, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1972; Dipesh Chakrabarty, ‘Anthropocene Time’, History and Theory, 57, 1, 2018, pp. 5–32. 38 Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2015. 39 For precolonial interactions on a global scale, see Andre Gunder Frank, Barry Gills (eds), The World System: Five Hundred Years or Five Thousand, New York, Routledge, 1994. 40 Lorenzo Veracini,‘Medieval Pisa as a Colonial Laboratory in the Historiographical Imagination of the Early Twentieth Century’, in Edward Cavanagh (ed.), Empire and Legal Thought: Ideas and Institutions from Antiquity to Modernity, Leiden, Brill, 2020, pp. 300–321. 41 Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonization from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 1229–1492, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992. 42 See Charles Verlinden, The Beginnings of Modern Colonization: Eleven Essays with an Introduction, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1970. 43 Philip Curtin, Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 8, 6–7. 44 Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, London, Penguin, 2002 . 45 James L. Hevia, English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth- Century China, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2003. 46 For Hong Kong, see Gregory B. Lee, Patrick Poon, ‘Hong Kong: The Decolonization that Never Happened’, Postcolonial Politics, 04/09/21 (available at: https://postcolonialpolitics.org/hong-kong-the-decolonization-that-never- happened/). 47 See Perry Anderson, ‘Portugal and the End of Ultracolonialism’, New Left Review, 15–17, 1962, pp. 83–102, 88–123, 85–114. 48 See Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo- American Maritime World, 1700– 1750, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987. 49 Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2000. 50 See J. H. Parry, Age of Reconnaissance: Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement, 1450–1650, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1963. 51 His 1860 novel Max Havelaar, or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company had a Dutch author (Eduard Douwes Dekker). It was not penned by a Javanese subaltern peasant, but it triggered substantial reforms nonetheless. Indonesian Novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer called it ‘the book that killed colonialism’. Pramoedya Ananta Toer, ‘The Book that Killed Colonialism’, The New York Times Magazine, 18/04/99, pp. 112–114.
1 Europe’s Expansion –The First and the Second Wave
The first global colonial ‘wave’ relied on and exploited already existing networks of subjection. The colonial relation could not develop where such networks did not exist, including networks of trans-regional trade, and many of the world’s areas, inland and remote, were thus immune against this early wave of colonial expansion. Conversely, the Indian Ocean basin was already criss-crossed by intense trade flows and became accessible to Europeans. This region was the world’s economic powerhouse during the sixteenth century and had been for centuries. The Aztec Empire had already subjugated surrounding populations and territories and was located not far from the islands that Spain could begin subjugating in the 1490s. These two macroregions were especially exposed to the first global colonial wave because the Portuguese could extract rent through the cartaz system, a system of trade licenses Portuguese armed traders began selling to traders in the Indian Ocean, and because a few Spaniards could install themselves on the Aztec imperial seat after conquering its capital.1 The first global colonial wave irrupted violently and destructively –colonialism is always violent. European trade was impossible in the Americas and often unprofitable in the Indian Ocean –the Iberian powers had little to offer –so the colonialists exacted tribute and sought to sequester rent. In a sense, they were ‘imperial’ rather than ‘colonial’, but profitable trades followed. Paradoxically, it was precisely because these colonisers were hailing from countries that had no significant productive capabilities that they were tempted to be ruthlessly violent. They raided and pillaged because their options were limited –the Venetian and the Genoese traders in the Levant had cultivated relationships instead. Plunder flowed to the Iberian metropoles where it was turned into capital before reaching nearby European countries and then countries further afield. A crucial cycle of global capital accumulation could then begin: manufacturing activities in Europe were greatly stimulated, while profits could be reinvested in colonial enterprises. Capitalism and colonialism went hand in hand.2 These imperial colonisers did well, some at least, but they were not the best human material that Europe could offer, despite what was said of the conquistadores for a long time in some colonialist historiographies. Preferably, DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-2
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 21 and if they could choose, the Europeans that were heading outside of Europe would rather be traders and trade like the Italians in the Levant had done for centuries out of their ‘factories’, fortified warehouses situated near suitable port facilities. This was a less risky proposition, considering the alternatives, especially in trades that could rely on markets that could be monopolistically cornered back in Europe. The Italians had relied on dependable business partners and intermediaries. The second choice for Europeans outside of Europe would be to be raiders (of course, trading and raiding often overlapped and a colonial trade is always an armed trade). They would consider settling distant lands only if they really had no alternatives. There was a reason why conversos, orphans, and convicts were sent out to colonise at first. The national historiographies of the settler societies typically prefer to tell a different story, with tales of ‘sturdy pioneers’, first settlers, and myths about regenerative ‘frontiers’, but the reality of building a life in colonial frontiers during the first few centuries of colonial history was gaunt and bloody hard (bloody is here used as a descriptor and not as unnecessary swearing). Farm-making is really hard labour. And then the colonial authorities would come and try to tax you. Explorers could also be simultaneously traders and raiders. They reported back to their sovereigns, or later to the learned academies of the metropoles, to mapmakers, and to investors. Missionaries were often doubling up as traders and reported back to the Church, or to their churches, if they were protestant. Alternatively, colonisers may decide to keep their secrets and sought to profit from their knowledge of distant lands across the seas. Basque fishermen must have stationed in North America for decades before Columbus reported back, and they had told nobody of what they knew. Their cod reached European markets already smoked, which means that they may have wintered in North America, and that they had Indigenous business partners there with whom they enjoyed sustained relationships.3 First there were decades of very profitable Iberian trades with wealthy polities in western Africa during the fifteenth century, a preparatory period before the first wave could take shape. Here are a few landmark events defining the first colonial wave’s ascending trajectory. In 1453, Byzantium falls to the Ottoman Turks, even if the ports of the Levant had already been under Ottoman control for some time. It is a crisis that forces traders to seek alternative routes because the traditional trading ports in the Levant have become temporarily unavailable or less profitable. In 1488, an ‘old’ ocean is accessed in a new way. Europeans knew about the Indian Ocean of course, but when the cape of Good Hope is doubled by a European explorer/trader for the first time a new system of relations becomes possible. In 1492, a whole ‘new’ world is ‘discovered’, even if this discovery was a byproduct of the search for a new way to reach an ‘old’ one. In 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas allocated distinct ‘spheres of influence’ between the colonial superpowers of the time. Colonialism already has a global imagination, and it had barely begun! The legal ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, which is
22 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave crucial to many colonialist claims to this day, is derived from Papal doctrines about the ‘universal’ role of the Church, a doctrine that was articulated in encyclicals issued in 1452 and 1455.4 In 1498 Vasco Da Gama arrives at India bypassing the Arab world and its merchants, who had been operating for centuries as intermediaries between Oriental markets and European traders. Shortly after, the Portuguese reach the Moluccas –the Spice Islands! In 1500, Portuguese explorer and adventurer Pedro Álvares Cabral arrives at Brazil, which fell on the Portuguese side of the redrawn Tordesillas line, a fortunate event (fortunate for the Portuguese monarch, that is –had he known when negotiating?). There was nothing to export there, no available markets; thus, in due course, slaves from Africa were imported to Brazil to work on newly established sugar plantations. This, as we will see, was a momentous development. In 1513 Vasco Núñez de Balboa ‘discovers’ yet another ocean: this time it is the Pacific Ocean –many had been suspecting it was there. In 1519 Hernan Cortes conquers Mexico and establishes the first colonial ‘successor’ state (there was already a state there). Finally (as far as the first wave is concerned), in 1522 a few survivors return to Europe after a world tour. It was what was left of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition. It had left Europe in 1519, but Magellan was not amongst the survivors. It was a fast-moving wave, and its result was the rapid establishment of a global colonial network. True, at this stage, it was only a global string of isolated outposts controlled by Europeans, but the network was dynamic and the profits were enormous; it is calculated that investors who would lose five ships for one reason or another could still make a profit with the sixth one.5 The first colonial wave exploited its colonies by raiding and plundering, then by taxing the extraction of precious minerals, or by extracting rent from already established networks of trade and by trading in luxury goods. Bulk is relatively less profitable, but communications would become more reliable with time, expanding the range of colonial commodities that could be profitably relied upon. In the lands of the former Aztec and Inca empires, in the western hemisphere, in areas subjugated by the conquistadores, who had installed themselves in the seat of the previous rulers, the Spaniards demanded tribute like the previous Atzec and Inca rulers did. They also relied on Indigenous forced labour. In Mexico the colonisers partitioned available labour amongst themselves through the encomienda system. In Peru, after the conquest, local arrangements were given a new colonial dress: the mita, for example, once an Indigenous system of forced labour, was adapted for the purpose of colonial domination. These colonisers consumed labour at a fierce rate; catastrophic depopulation preceded, accompanied, and followed their conquests. Spanish dominion in the Americas was ruthless and extractive, but it was also flexible and adaptive. In the eastern hemisphere, after establishing their ascendancy, the Portuguese were able to trade on their behalf and to tax most trade criss- crossing the Indian Ocean. This was Portugal’s Carreira das índias, a most profitable undertaking.
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 23 On the contrary, as we will see, the second colonial wave saw the importation into the Americas of enslaved labour from across the Atlantic Ocean and the organisation there of the protoindustrial production and commercialisation of a few colonial commodities (mainly sugar). Sugar was grown in the Americas first in Brazil’s plantations, and then in the islands of the Caribbean. Slaves were sought in Africa by Portuguese traders to compensate for a lack of tradable commodities; their ability to reach both Africa and Brazil allowed their ships to access an already existing market for slaves (in Africa) and to carry a tradeable commodity they previously did not have to a market that previously did not exist in the Americas. The plantations of the ‘new’ world were one result of dramatically increasing demand for colonial staples (especially spices and sugar), and then of the need to sustain the slave trade. It is significant that the ‘westering’ of empire from the Mediterranean to the islands of the Atlantic Ocean, and then to the Americas replicates the westering of the cultivation of sugar cane. This cultivar had originated in today’s New Guinea, then it had been introduced to India, then to Cyprus, to Crete –the island’s ancient name was Candia, and ‘candy’ in English derives from it –and then to Sicily. Sugarcane had then been brought to the islands of the mid-Atlantic before reaching Brazil and then, from there, the Caribbean Islands. It was much later introduced to Australia and then to Hawaii and Fiji, where it would be grown by immigrants from India –it had been a round-the-world trip!6 Chattel slavery as an institution (slavery was ancient, but chattel slavery was invented by the European colonisers of the sixteenth century) responded to the need to procure a tradable commodity when the colonisers had none, and to develop from scratch colonial economies that required great concentrations of labour power. *** What drove colonialism during the first two global colonial waves? Plunder and spices from the east, and plunder and silver, and then sugar and other colonial staples from the west. Of course, during the second wave it was enslaved humans that drove colonialism by growing and processing the sugarcane that sustained it. Other colonial staples had less intensive labour requirements but still relied on slaves or other types of bound labour. There was at one point a veritable ‘sugar revolution’.7 This revolution affected the islands of the Caribbean, which had previously focused on less profitable trades (i.e., hides and tobacco) and as a region had been important primarily because it was on the way to Mexico and Upper Peru (today’s Bolivia). These were the colonies one really wanted to own because enormous rivers of silver, a steady flow, came out of their silver mountains, even if possibly eight million died in the mines of Potosi, while the environmental devastation left behind remained.8 These rivers produced a momentous transformation (beside inflating prices). There had been a chronic scarcity of silver in Europe during the Middle Ages, and this dearth had been an insurmountable obstacle to international trade. As a flood of silver entered
24 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave the European space via Spain, a revitalised global system of trade became possible. The silver did not remain in Spain –Spain benefited, but the silver entered the whole of Europe before proceeding further afield, heading towards India and China. These latter markets would not import, and Europe’s commercial deficit with these regions was persistent. This trade was not exactly colonial at first (until opium reversed this deficit), but it would progressively become so. In a sense, colonialism in the west would enable colonialism in the east. Tobacco in Virginia and in Maryland, and in the Caribbean before the sugar revolution, allowed colonists of small means to survive, as they could rely on indentured labourers (indenture, another colonial institution, did not require capital outlays). Sugar, however, was promoted globally by the Dutch especially because they had been chased out of Pernambuco in Brazil and were thus seeking alternatives for their carrying trades. Sugar was welcomed by the French and the British colonisers in the Caribbean islands, who were seeking to take advantage of their until then unprofitable possessions. Sugar production resulted in greatly enhanced capital concentrations and sustained multiple networks of trade servicing the plantations. Slaves, food provisions, and construction materials were in great demand. This was the second global colonial wave –which built its network of subjection instead of relying on already existing ones. Profits drove colonialism more than anything else: the colonial trades were enormously profitable. Even relatively tiny sugar islands would yield enormous profits. Thanks to sugar, a few possessions in the West Indies could rival shaky claims over entire continents. What do tobacco and sugar have in common? They are addictive, they sustain further demand! Indeed, colonialism and addiction in a general sense are related, and the ‘Opium Wars’, for example, as we will see, were fought by the British and the French for a ‘free trade’, where the buyers were not exactly ‘free’ (neither were the producers of opium in the Indian subcontinent ‘free’). The sugar plantations of Brazil and, later, of the islands of the Caribbean demanded a new type of slavery: chattel slavery, which was markedly distinct from previous forms of slavery (i.e., ‘classical’ slavery, or ‘Oriental’ slavery).9 The plantations required great amounts of labour power, and these were procured from western Africa. And they required the concentration of labour power in specific locations: the sugar mills and the plantations of the New World. And they required great capital investment and enhanced technical capabilities. The sugar plantations were called ingenios in Spanish –they were indeed feats of engineering.10 The sugar plantations and the sugar trade were thus a hothouse of capitalist development. In time, a triangular trade was established, involving Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Goods from Europe would purchase enslaved humans and sustain local networks of trade in western Africa, the enslaved from Africa would produce sugar in the Americas, and sugar would be brought to and further processed in Europe, stimulating manufactures there. Handsome profits were obtained at each passage.
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 25 Violence underpinned colonialism in all its operations. Slavery is violence –a type of ‘social death’ –and millions were sacrificed to the altar of capitalist accumulation and the pursuit of the colonial trades.11 The already mentioned ‘great divergence’ between Europe and the rest of the world is one result of extraordinary violence, not of better economic performance. China, the Islamic world, and India had been wealthier and more advanced than Europe was when the divergence began, but it was violence, and a determination to violently enforce colonial monopolies, that established domination; only much later, unequal terms of trade could be exploited without ostensible violence. Yet again, as we will see, there is no profitable ‘free trade’ without a previous monopolistic phase, and the latter should be seen as a precursor rather than the antithesis of the former. Viruses and their diffusion drove colonialism too. They drove it as much as guns and other weapons did –the two combined in deadly ways. The European diseases introduced to the Americas included smallpox, measles, typhus, influenza. The African diseases introduced to the Americas included yellow fever. Indigenous labourers in the Americas would often abscond and retaliate and could not survive horrifying labour conditions long. They would die of exhaustion, hunger, and disease and their combination. If colonialism thrives by forcibly extracting labour, a significant and chronic labour shortage, either because of avoidance or death, constitutes colonialism’s first general crisis. Thus, settler colonialism, the peopling of colonies with settlers, and chattel slavery can both be seen as colonial formations born out of Indigenous resistance against colonial domination: an excess of resistance, avoidance, and a deficit of resistance against exogenous pathogens. Both chattel slavery and settler colonialism are designed to respond to the challenges of the Indigenous refusal to procure labour. Germs and technology made the first two ‘waves’ of colonial expansion possible in the western hemisphere because they compromised the stability and viability of the Indigenous populations.12 The global results were demographic collapse in the Americas, a process that later would be repeated in Australia and the Pacific, and impoverishment in Asia and Africa. ‘Virgin soil’ epidemics were relatively uncommon; it was colonial violence that made imported pathogens especially deadly (viruses did not come before colonialism, even if they aided in the establishment of a global system of domination). In the process, entire biotas were completely transformed –it was the ‘Columbian Exchange’. Madeira (which means ‘timber’ in Portuguese) can be seen as the original epitome of colonial environmental destruction: the island had been covered in forests at first, but in a few generations of European settlement it was subject to catastrophic erosion. Colonialism proceeds in ‘waves’. The colonial waves followed one another and can be conceptualised as successive sequential impulses of unequal relationship- building. For example, the colonial state follows the conquistadores and the encomienderos (who had followed the Aztec and Inca and Maya states). The conquistadores are able to escape the
26 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave consolidating absolutist state in Europe, but it is only a temporary escape, and the European state sends judges and administrators after them. So, even if the conquistadores acted on their own behalf at first, the Spanish Empire of Charles the First and his successors consolidated itself through the establishment in the colonies of the audiencias (judicial courts), the despatching of a viceroy who reported directly to the metropole and its government, and the transporting of the Church and its institutions. The colonial state was consolidated through a successive wave that followed the conquistadores. Similarly, the traders follow the explorers or the missionaries, the army and the bureaucrats follow the traders, and so on. Elsewhere (see Chapter 4), the settlers follow the ‘pioneers’, originally a military term that denotes a foot soldier that proceeds ahead of the army. The settler society followed the ‘middle ground’ established by traders and the Indigenous polities they relied on, then the administrators of the settler state follow the settlers, and so on.13 There is nothing inevitable about this description, of course, this is merely an outline; the main point is to emphasise a succession of impulses. Similarly, the Protestant nations of Europe follow the Catholic ones, and organise new ‘waves’ of colonial expansion on their own behalf. England had joined the colonial race already in 1496, but it lagged behind the colonial superpowers of the time and had to develop new colonial modes of domination because it could not break at first the colonial monopolies that had already been established by the Iberian powers. John Cabot went to Newfoundland and found fish (another colonial commodity, even if a much less fancy one than gold). Thus, English colonialism was robbery at first. Privateer Francis Drake’s model of colonialism was to attack and plunder the Spanish possessions. English colonial endeavours were typically failures at first. Between 1570 and 1620 English colonialism was marked by failure: failure to find the Northwest Passage, for example, and failure to establish permanent settlements in Virginia. Sugar production and trading in enslaved persons came next for the English colonisers (sugar would benefit the crown handsomely because it could cheaply exact duties on its importation into the realm). Jamaica had been a base for privateering, but eventually became dotted with many profitable sugar plantations. This is where the best returns for investment could be obtained for a long time, and the English and then British colonists made much more money in the Caribbean in the seventeenth century than in North America. England would spend two centuries catching up to the Iberian powers in colonial scenarios, but at first it had to settle for a handful of unpromising settlements on the North American eastern seaboard –no established networks of subjection or trade there, so the colonists had to do everything themselves (these proved to be excellent bases from which to disrupt the Iberians’ colonial trades, however). North America was second rate as far as colonial possessions went. The French had joined the colonial race too. They also focused on the North Atlantic American coast and established themselves at the mouth of
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 27 the Saint Lawrence River. They could quickly establish extensive networks of trade from there, even though there were no already established networks of subjection. For the fur trade, they relied extensively on Indigenous business partners. It was a very profitable and sustained trade, generating a fast-moving wave of trade that spread rapidly over much of North America. But, comparatively speaking, English and French North America were not yet prized colonial possessions. There were no existing trades to tax, no empires to conquer, and no concentrated populations to exploit. As there were no existing networks of subjection, they had to be created: planting communities could lead in due course to some fiscal revenue and some trade. When they can sustain rapidly expanding populations, settler colonies are phenomenal importers of metropolitan manufactures, but this proved difficult at first because as the colonists had not paid taxes initially, they often argued that they never should. Eventually, they argued for their ‘freedoms’ more and more forcefully, ending up declaring and then enforcing their right to not pay taxes unless they could be ‘represented’. France and England were challenging the Papal bulls that had allocated the whole world exclusively to the Iberian powers.14 They argued that only actual settlement could justify claims to colonial possession, and therefore performed alternative ‘ceremonies’ of possession.15 The doctrine of discovery was thus paralleled by another legal doctrine designed to justify colonial claims: the doctrine of possession.16 These efforts to break the monopoly held by the Iberian powers in colonial matters and the profits that could be obtained resulted in a race to establish actual colonial possessions. It was an early form of ‘imperialism’, a ‘scramble’ of sort (we will see another imperial ‘scramble’ again; see Chapter 6). When the Dutch also entered the colonial competition, they were already at war with the Spanish emperor, who claimed a right to rule over their country, a colonial war became a national war and vice versa. The Dutch were able to innovate and win: new boats, many, many new boats, and many new colonial trades, including the carrying trades between someone else’s colonies and the metropole. And new technologies of trade. The Dutch especially resented the notion that the sea could be claimed and ‘owned’ by anybody. Dutchman Hugh Grotius’ notion of ‘natural law’ asserted the principle of freedom of navigation. This legal principle did not refer to anything ‘natural’ even if it said it did; it was a legal device designed to break a colonial monopoly, just like the doctrine of possession. The end of Iberian supremacy in colonial scenarios is also a matter of shifting colonial trades, not merely colonial doctrines. In 1600, the English queen Elizabeth had issued a charter for the English East India Company. The Dutch East India Company, the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), was established in 1602, and rapidly became the greatest colonial corporate concern of the seventeenth century. French colonial companies were also established. Corporate colonialism was very successful globally and characterised the second global colonial wave.17 It had already existed
28 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave in some form or another, and even earlier, and benefiting from its close relationships with the future Holy Roman Emperor, the German Welser Company, originally a banking concern, had obtained a contract in 1528 for the colonisation of parts of northern South America located in what would become Venezuela. The province was used as collateral against the Welser investment in support of the king of Spain’s Holy Roman imperial candidature. The Company was meant to ‘pacify’ the area and to make it profitable, and was required to import 50 German miners, 4000 slaves, and to establish two settlements, but by 1556 it had been replaced. Bartolomé De Las Casas depicted the spectacular barbarity of the German colonisers in his Short Account (1552). Indigenous resistors and extraordinary colonial violence had made this colonising attempt ineffectual. Colonisation in the region had to wait. The competition between Europeans overseas was at times vicious. A Spaniard had killed the German governor of Venezuela, and at Amboyn, in today’s Indonesia, a few English traders were massacred by Dutch ones in 1623. In this instance the solidarity between colonisers had broken down in a location far away from where the grudges between different Europeans had originated. But different powers also specialised in different colonial operations. The Dutch were especially successful in the east, where they rapidly displaced the Portuguese from many markets during the seventeenth century. In this region, the second global colonial wave almost entirely displaced the first, and the Portuguese were left with only a handful of scattered possessions. In the west, however, the second wave could not neatly or easily displace the first. The Dutch tried to occupy Brazil for decades, but ultimately failed. The Portuguese kingdom and its colonial empire had been subsumed under the Spanish crown in 1580 and would only regain its autonomy in 1640. The Dutch attacked relentlessly the Portuguese possessions since they were at war with the Spanish emperor. It was a veritable world imperialist war for hegemony, several more would follow, as we will see. *** How did the second wave wash over the first one? The first wave had spanned the whole globe. In 1543, the Portuguese had arrived in Japan, but their trade there remained restricted, and the local sovereign retained control of all trade with foreigners –this sovereign was also enforcing a monopoly. Portugal had controlled a network of possessions that went from Lisbon to Japan and Timor via Brazil. On the other side of the world, after Pizarro had conquered Peru (a great provider of silver) in 1533, and after the occupation of the Philippines in 1560, the Spaniards had controlled a network of possessions that went from Cadiz to Mexico via Cuba and Hispaniola, to Peru via the Isthmus of Panama, and to Manila via Acapulco and Guam. The Spanish galleon and the convoys bringing silver to Sevilla and then Cadiz epitomise this first colonial wave.18 But both networks were fragile and exposed to attack, and attacked they were. To break this monopoly, the
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 29 European competitors of the first wave colonisers tried buccaneering and sought the elusive northwest passage (which would have allowed privileged access –a monopoly of sort –to the China trade). China was still the ultimate origin of very profitable trades –silks and tea. The Iberian colonisers claimed monopolies everywhere and enforced monopolies where they could, their opponents challenged claims everywhere, and raided, ‘smuggled’, and engaged in other ‘illegal’ trades where they could. Pirates are unsanctioned corsairs –corsairs are pirates who have done some paperwork or have had their paperwork done for them. Englishman Francis Drake’s voyages between 1570– 1573 demonstrated that England was on the rise as a colonial power and confirmed that predatory colonialism is the earliest form of colonial violence. England and later Britain would in due course develop more sophisticated modes of colonial subjection, but had begun with piracy; that is, with stealing from an already existing network of subjection.19 Eventually, the Iberian monopoly over colonial affairs, a monopoly that had been sanctioned by several Papal documents called bulls, was broken. After the Reformation it had been explicitly denounced by many. In Europe, in 1588, the Spanish Armada had disappeared in the English Channel, and the de facto and then de jure independence of the Netherlands also followed. England, France, and the Netherlands eventually acquired a world role, and all became active in colonial scenarios both in the East and in the West. Their initially tiny colonies became important because they had become extremely profitable. The slave trade now rested firmly in British, French, and especially Dutch hands. The French, for a while, especially in the eighteenth century, were very active in India, in the Caribbean (where they acquired Guadelupe, Martinique, Saint Domingue, and other possessions), and in North America (French Canada had been claimed for decades but was partially occupied only in the early 1600s). Between 1555 and 1565 the French also tried their luck in Brazil (but failed). In practice, they could establish colonies only where there was no European competition, and where there was non- European collaboration. Indigenous collaboration was crucial to their efforts. Unequal relations do not mean that the subjected party does not retain significant agency; sometimes the putative unequal relations the colonialists were proclaiming and expecting were not even that unequal: in North America, the French absolutely needed their Indigenous partners –no partnerships, no trade, no furs, no profits, no colonialism. The Huguenots –the French Protestants –were crucial in promoting France’s colonial endeavours and, after their expulsion from France, many Huguenots supported England’s colonial endeavours (they were welcome in the latter’s colonial possessions, were often allocated lands, and formed a veritable global diaspora). The Netherlands was involved in a long-lasting contest with the Hapsburgs of Spain: repressing the revolt of the Netherlands sapped the Spanish treasury
30 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave of a significant portion of its colonially originated riches. The Netherlands eventually emerged victorious at home, in the East, and in the West Indies, and in due course the Spanish emperor was forced to recognise Dutch independence. The Netherlands thus became a genuine world power. It was especially dominant in Asia. In 1601 the Dutch were established at Bantam; it was from this basis that their empire in the East Indies would grow. The carrying trade of many colonies was in Dutch hands, and the Anglo-Dutch wars of the seventeenth century were fought on this issue as well as other ones. The Dutch compensated a lack of direct domination, they did not occupy many colonies, with an excess of displacement. Indeed, as they carried the trades of other colonisers, they relied on the latter’s domination and provided the means of displacement –it was an early division of colonial labour, and in a way also a type of colonialism piggybacking on existing networks of colonial domination. England was able later to break Dutch supremacy in European waters and further afield only after a protracted struggle. Amsterdam had become a crucial financial centre during the seventeenth century. But it was also and in particular a colonial city, not only because the profits of colonial enterprises travelled and were accumulated, exchanged, and reinvested there, but also because new industries related to the colonial trades developed there. Colonial commodities –sugar, cocoa, coffee and spices –were imported, processed in the Netherlands, and then re-exported as manufactured goods. Colonialism thrives on unequal trade, and trade sustains further colonial expansion. Colonialism was now no longer about previously neglected peripheries successfully finding ways to bypass established Eurasian trading networks, or about western Europe’s western extremities trying to compete with Genoa and Venice and their partners in the Levant. Colonialism now was about organising international networks of trade through sophisticated financial technologies like insurance, stock markets, and limited liability corporations. These were all innovations that shaped the modern world, innovations devised to respond to the specific challenges arising from the management of colonial trades.20 By the time the second ‘wave’ crested, sophisticated financial arrangements were being used to spread risk, collect investments, and distribute profits. These arrangements involved countries beyond the metropoles and the colonies only. Colonial phenomena (as we will see in Chapter 5, for example) are in operation even if there is no formal political subjection, and profits accrued in the colonies entered an all- European space, while colonial spoliations and the resulting devastations affected regions much wider than the overseas locales directly controlled by the various European powers.21 In the long history of capitalist globalisation there was thus a succession of dominating capitalist ‘cores’: Genoa was first, followed by Amsterdam during the second ‘wave’, then by London during the successive waves, especially, as we will see, during the fourth and fifth ones. Eventually, New York
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 31 would become the undisputed financial centre, bringing us to today.22 These were all colonial cities as well as financial and capitalist centres and hubs of global trade. Karl Marx focused on capitalism as a global phenomenon and linked colonialism with the birth of capitalism in Capital. ‘Primitive accumulation’ for him was a process that referred both to the expulsion of peasants from ‘cleared’ lands in Europe, and especially in England and Scotland, and to the pillage and destruction the Europeans inflicted on the countries that would become their colonies. He saw a single process taking place in distinct and yet linked locations: ‘the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production’.23 Marx thus foregrounded the foundational role of colonialism in the history of capitalism. He was especially interested in denouncing ‘free trade’, which was the specific colonial global wave of his day. ‘Free trade’ for him was not free; it was actually a combination of monopolistic arrangements, either an ostensibly violent relation, a type of primitive accumulation, or a relationship based on the ‘silent compulsion’ of economic forces. For him, this compulsion had been established through violence in the first place and relied on violence for its reproduction. Besides, as Rosa Luxemburg would clarify a few decades later, primitive accumulation was still ongoing in the colonial world; it was an absolutely necessary element in processes of capital accumulation, and not a phenomenon that characterised a specific time and specific locations, as it has often been assumed by focusing on Europe only when observing the rise of capitalism.24 The first and the second global colonial waves rapidly established an interconnected network of colonial outposts. It was an unprecedented achievement because even if the land-based agrarian empires of the past had been able to subjugate significant populations and dominate extensive territories, only the colonial powers had built the first global and integrated network of unequal exchange. Still, the power of the colonialists was for a long time severely constrained: they were occupying bounded enclaves, were often needing the local authorities’ permission or acquiescence to reside and trade in foreign lands, did not control territory beyond their ‘factories’ in Asian ports, or beyond their plantations in tropical settings, while their sway beyond their towns in Latin America was often more nominal than substantive. The power of the Iberian and the other western European kings and leaders was also limited, because their will was weakened by distance and by the blue water. Their power was consolidating at home, but they could only indirectly intervene overseas. And yet this was a global and resilient network of subjection. And it was expanding and intensifying. And as it expanded, it was weakening the societies that it was touching, even if only indirectly at first. This was the first globalisation. Globalisation today is genuinely everywhere. Colonialism brought it there.
32 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave
Chapter 1 –Further Resources 1) Massacre at the Festival of Toxcatl: Duran Codex or History of the Indies of New Spain
Figure 1.1 Massacre at the Festival of Toxcatl: Duran Codex or History of the Indies of New Spain © HeritagePics/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: Colonial violence as seen by the colonised: senseless violence, the fully armed against the defenceless, enormous weapons almost larger than the persons that wield them, dismembered body parts, blood. This representation, included in the Codex Duran, refers to the ‘Massacre in the Great Temple’, or the ‘Alvarado Massacre’ of 1520. It is a quintessential colonial moment: when an Indigenous festival and ritual celebration becomes the brutal and systematic slaughter of an Indigenous elite. The colonised witnesses senseless destruction and cruelty. Compare this image with image 0.1 presented in the Introduction: what are the main differences? What does the facelessness of the colonisers represented in the second image convey, especially when this anonymity is contrasted with the classical style of composition used to produce the first? 2) Movie for discussion: Queimada (Burn; 1969) Note: This movie represents the impossibility of an equal relationship between coloniser and colonised. They may collaborate, but contradictions, the contradictions of a colonial world, will catch up …
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 33 Question: Is true friendship between coloniser and colonised even possible? 3) Chapter 1 –Main Points 1) The global history of colonialism can be seen as a succession of colonising ‘waves’. 2) The first wave emanated from the Iberian Peninsula, beginning circa 1450s. 3) The first wave relied on existing networks of subjection to raid, plunder and to seek rent. 4) The Portuguese colonisers typically went to the East and south; the Spanish colonisers went to the Americas. 5) The second global colonial wave organised the production and commercialisation of colonial commodities in tropical plantations. The colonising powers of northern Europe, France, England, and the Dutch, entered the colonial fray and broke the monopoly held until then by the Iberian powers. 6) The labour power that made these plantations viable and profitable was transported there from Africa. The second wave began in the late sixteenth century.
34 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave
Map 1.1 The First Global Colonial Wave, circa 1450–1600
4) The First Global Colonial Wave, circa 1450–1600
THE FIRST GLOBAL COLONIAL WAVE
Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 35
Notes 1 Sanjay Subrahmanyam, The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500–1700: A Political and Economic History , London, John Wiley & Sons, 2012. 2 See Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Man, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1989. 3 See Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, New York, Random House, 1999. 4 See Robert J. Miller, Jacinta Ruru, Larissa Behrendt, Tracey Lindberg, Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010. 5 Parry, Age of Reconnaissance. 6 Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History, London, Penguin Books, 1986. 7 Philp D. Curtin, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998. 8 Nicholas A. Robins, Mercury, Mining, and Empire: The Human and Ecological Cost of Colonial Silver Mining in the Andes, Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press, 2011. 9 Robin Blackburn, The Making of the New World Slavery, London, Verso, 1997. 10 As noted by Niall Ferguson in Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, London, Penguin, 2004, at p. 80. 11 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1982. 12 Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. On the role of technology in enabling Western domination, see Daniel R. Headrick, Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010. Technology made oceans and continents accessible, whereas they previously were not, and later enabled Europeans to dwell in the tropics, where they would previously die. Technology typically enabled the violence of colonialists and imperialists: the Dum Dum bullets were specifically designed to target the body of colonised populations (see p. 263), while the Gatling machine guns enabled cheap imperialist expeditions (see pp. 264–265). Later, air power was used to sustain colonial regimes (see, pp. 302–333). 13 On the ‘middle ground’, see Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991. 14 Anthony Pagden, Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain, and France, c. 1500-c. 1800, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1995. 15 Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492–1640, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995. 16 Andrew Fitzmaurice, Sovereignty, Property and Empire, 1500–2000, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014. 17 J. C. Sharman, Andrew Phillips, Outsourcing Empire: How Company-States Made the Modern World, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2020. 18 See Carlo M. Cipolla, Conquistadores, pirati, mercanti. La saga dell’argento spagnuolo, Bologna, il Mulino, 1996. 19 See Ferguson, Empire, p. 7.
36 Europe’s Expansion – The First and the Second Wave 20 The joint stock system is a technology that facilitates all colonial endeavours. Historian William Robert Scott concludes that ‘the joint-stock company was the organization which, at each successive step, provided the requisites for the obtaining [of] both sea-power and colonial possessions’. William Robert Scott, The Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1912, p. 440. 21 Immanuel Wallerstein’s ‘world system’ theory convincingly sees ‘cores’ and ‘peripheries’ rather than ‘metropoles’ and ‘colonies’ because some cores were not directly colonising and because some peripheries were not directly colonised. 22 See Giovanni Allegri, The Long Twentieth Century, London, Verso 1994. 23 Karl Marx, ‘Chapter Thirty-One: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist’, Capital, Volume One (available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867- c1/ch31.htm). 24 Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to the Economic Theory of Imperialism’ , in Rosa Luxemburg, The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, London, Verso, 2016, pp. 1–342.
2 The Atlantic Slave Trade
The colonial economies of the Atlantic Ocean were established from scratch during the second colonial ‘wave’. These were the ‘plantation economies’. Alternatively, the precolonial economies were comprehensively reorganised, as the fur trade did in North America. Colonialism now organised production; not primarily extracted tribute. The Portuguese crown was typically weak abroad: it relied on decentralised systems and on collaborators, that is, on Portuguese sea captains and independent merchants it could not control, and on allied and more or less compliant local rulers. Merchants, adventurers, sailors, soldiers, slaves, refugees, conversos and many ‘undesirables’ boarded the Portuguese ships. Multinational crews manned them. The Portuguese relied on informal arrangements in the Indian Ocean and only actually controlled very limited enclaves and trading posts. There was very little emigration. As it could not tax or obtain other revenues, the Portuguese crown relied on issuing monopolies, a form of rent. The Portuguese merchants were seeking tradeable goods in distant locations, typically not carrying them on their voyage out; they typically relied on rent because their profit margins were otherwise limited. Brazil demanded enslaved humans and all the necessary commodities that would sustain rapidly expanding plantations (i.e., food, timber, tools, and other manufactured goods). The plantation system in Brazil was thus multiplying the colonial trades. Madeira had been a laboratory for this system; it was there that the Portuguese colonists had realised that they could grow the commodities they needed (i.e., sugar) and establish a market they needed (for enslaved humans). This colonialism was initially marginal, much more was to be gained from trading in spices and taxing trade in the Indian Ocean, but like a virus it spread widely.1 The Spaniards controlled territory because it was this control that enabled the exaction of tribute. Disease, and the depopulation that it caused enabled their rapacious behaviour. They had sought in the Americas trade opportunities and spices, and to emulate the Portuguese, but could not trade in the Caribbean islands. The encomienda system of labour exploitation was eventually transferred to central America. In the Andean region, they extracted labour in accordance with the Indigenous mita system. Labour DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-3
38 The Atlantic Slave Trade not land was sought, because this colonialism focused on extracting mineral wealth from rich deposits.2 Forced labour, and the extraction of gold and silver were the alternative colonial model the Spaniards set up, alternative to the cartaz system, and to the plantations populated by enslaved labourers that the Portuguese were establishing in Brazil. This was also a type of colonialism that prompted the growth of global markets: silver was then the preferred means of international exchange, so this colonialism also multiplied trades (if you carried silver, you did not need to transport commodities you did not have, or to rely on raiding, so you were engaging in a much less risky business). The Spanish crown was also relatively weak abroad: the adventurers hailing from Spain were typically conquering first, and only then, and from a position of relative strength, seeking royal recognition. Cortes’ foray into Mexico was most definitely unauthorised. The Spanish king at one point even sent an army against him. In the Americas, both models, plantation and extractive colonialism, were extremely profitable. Cash crop agriculture was suited to mercantilism, the economic doctrine of the day, because it would help the metropole maintaining a favourable balance of trade. Sugar and enslaved humans, and their combination, enriched the colonisers and their metropoles greatly. Tariffs were charged to discourage imports and protective measures were protecting exports, and sugar helped because it could be used to offset any imbalance. And so did silver, which did not even need to be exchanged for itself. Silver and sugar and slaves made the world by way of colonialism. One result of these successes, as far as the Europeans involved were concerned, was that many would-be emulators also wanted in, so this system became aggressively expansionary. The English and French crowns were also weak abroad, when compared to their expanding powers within their realms, so privately funded companies operating under royal licence were the way these upstarts did colonialism at first. And yet, without Indigenous demographic collapse, only the trading post model would have been available, and in the absence of possible profitable trades, there would probably have been no conquest of the Americas.3 The European colonisers were not great conquerors, they were unhygienic and lucky conquerors. Likewise, without enslaved humans much of this conquest would have been meaningless. But the colonisers had access to a market for enslaved humans that was already in existence in Africa, and only needed to bring commodities that could give them access to it there. Slaves and the Indigenous holocaust ultimately explain colonialism’s first two waves. The accumulations these waves enabled can explain the following waves too. Slavery is a trans-historical and a global phenomenon, a very ancient institution dating back to classical antiquity and even before that. Raids to obtain slaves had been carried out for centuries across both shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Depending on how this institution is defined, slavery characterises many eras, including this one (‘wage slavery’ was and is a contemporary concern, even if more recently the slavery of ‘unpayable’ debts
The Atlantic Slave Trade 39 has become an all-consuming issue). But the Atlantic slave trade and chattel slavery are a specific phenomenon.4 The trade lasted roughly four centuries, between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century. Chattel slavery was unknown in previous eras; slavery had often rather resembled indenture. In previous eras, even if slaves could not choose to leave, or the conditions of their labour, they could own property, most could buy their freedom, and many could pursue their professions and autonomously conduct their businesses. According to the new system, however, enslaved labour had to be tradeable, was concentrated at specific points, and organised by complex production processes. Chattel slavery as a specific social formation linked to the developing colonial and capitalist worlds is constituted by violent enslavement and by the ‘middle passage’ to the Americas, a violent displacement; these are the very basic ingredients of colonialism. Later forced migrations, the mobilisation of unfree labourers headed somewhere else – across the Red Sea, and across the Indian Ocean, and across the Pacific Ocean –were also characterised by displacement and violence.5 Colonialism and slavery are closely related, even if they are partially overlapping sets, like empire and colonialism. Not all slavery is colonial, and not all colonialisms rely on slavery. The ‘middle passage’ should be seen as more than a segment of a triangular system of global exchange (however, in Brazil the colonisers there eventually cut the middleman and established a direct bilateral South Atlantic slave trade and with it an autonomous slaving empire that encompassed Brazil and Angola).6 The ‘middle passage’ violently turned individuals into something else and constituted a new humanity out of a remarkably heterogenous mix. The slavers were careful not to allow for the concentration of individuals that could speak the same language –they were determined to prevent all cultural transmission. This new human collective was defined by a denial of humanity.7 This human collective was defined by ‘social death’. Chattel slavery is a result of specifically colonial circumstances, especially the need for immediate returns on significant capital investment, and the need to begin production as soon as possible. Bonded labour was the best available option as far as the colonisers were concerned. Indigenous labour had proved somewhat unreliable: it was located far from the plantations and the mines, and enslaved Indigenous peoples died of imported diseases or absconded. Moreover, they could often rely on significant military power, and were thus often needed as allies. European indentured labour had also proved unreliable, and not because this form of bonded labour was not also tried. The colonies that relied on indenture were typically those who could not afford enslaved labourers, and the colonists who relied on indenture were typically those who could not afford slaves. The temporary nature of indentured servitude was an added problem, assuming a colonialist’s point of view: one could not profit from indentured labourers beyond a specified period of time, and one could not profit from indentured labourers
40 The Atlantic Slave Trade beyond a certain level of exploitation, because there were laws protecting them, and because indentured servants were often living with their masters, a circumstance that would have recommended a less exploitative approach. Moreover, indentured humans do not give birth to indentured children, and the availability of ‘free’ land beyond the bounds of the plantation provided opportunities for former indentured individuals to advance beyond the status of servile labour. They could get to the ‘backblocks’ and subsist. Indenture was thus relatively unprofitable (even if there were no immediate outlays), and dispersive –the colonies would expand because they were not working properly. The colonists that reached the backblocks were lost to the colonial economies –taxing their trades was impossible because they did not trade much. They typically subsisted and were difficult to reach –a colonial planner’s nightmare. Conversely, the slaves were only lost to the colonial economy if they absconded and successfully established viable autonomous Maroon communities, a very tall order, given the circumstances. They often tried, at times successfully, and more successfully than a scant historical record would suggest, since both the Maroons and the colonial authorities had an interest in keeping silent, the former to escape detection, the latter to escape publicity and admitting failure. If the Maroon communities could not succeed, it was because the colonial authorities always prioritised their repression. But resistance was rendered especially difficult because the death of a slave was not a significant loss for the colonial economy; many more bonded humans were always available through the trade, and it was a sustained flow of enslaved humans that enabled extreme forms of exploitation and brutality. And the flow was sustained indeed. All the colonialist powers that participated in both the first and the second global colonial waves traded in enslaved humans: the more successful they were relative to their competitors, the more intensely they engaged in this trade because their competitors then preferred to delegate the trade to them and allow their colonists to purchase slaves marketed by others. It was an early articulation of international colonial labour –colonial cooperation as well as competition explain colonialism’s global ascendancy. England, for example, was for a long time the basis of a monopolistic trade in enslaved humans that sustained colonialism in the Spanish- controlled American mainland colonies; the English merchants would pay handsomely the king of Spain for this privilege (those who were actually paying for this all, of course, were the enslaved human beings). The first cargo of African slaves was shipped to the Americas in 1526. It was a Portuguese undertaking. The first similar cargo to reach what is today the United States was shipped in 1619. In a way, however, this new colonial wave looked like the first, because there already was a market for slaves in Africa, traditionally directed towards North Africa and the Middle East. Thus, the Atlantic slave trade piggybacked on this network of subjection, and redirected and massively amplified it.8
The Atlantic Slave Trade 41 The Portuguese had experimented with chattel slavery in the Atlantic Islands that had fallen under their direct control: the Azores, Madeira, Cabo Verde, Fernando Po, and especially Sao Tome, which became a veritable laboratory for this particular mode of organising production. Chattel slavery was then extended westward from these early laboratories of colonial subjection. This mode of domination thus followed the path of sugar. Monopolies were crucial to this trade, just as they had been crucial to the activities of first wave colonisers. Monopolies made the trade profitable and reliable, and in important ways these monopolies helped consolidating the reach of the European sovereigns who granted them. The European rulers could now tap the flow of capital reaching the various metropolitan centres and thus become more effective colonial actors (as noted, their reach in distant locations overseas was originally very weak). Conversely, the European sovereigns were able to consolidate their authority in the metropoles because they could rely on the profits arising from the colonial enterprises of those they were sponsoring. The slave trade and chattel slavery had tremendous consequences in the metropoles too. The Dutch West India Company (established 1621) collected private capital closely linked to a rapidly consolidating state. Bahia, Brazil, was occupied by the Dutch in 1624, nearby Pernambuco in 1630. With these acquisitions, the slave trade went global because the Dutch become heavily involved in it. Their first shipment dates back to 1612. The subsequent ‘Sugar Revolution’, a transformation that followed the Dutch loss of their possessions in Brazil, unleashed a veritable global colonial wave. The Dutch had acquired the know-how of plantation agriculture and they transferred it globally. They were deliberately spreading the plantation model to English and French possessions in the Caribbean because they were poised to gain from their recently acquired hegemonic position in the slave trade. The English colonists shifted eagerly from growing tobacco to growing sugar, in Barbados first, and in their other Caribbean possessions during the 1640s. Tobacco was not as profitable as sugar, but also not as capital intensive –a shift to sugar in the English possessions also meant a shift from indenture to chattel slavery.9 *** Fast forward to the early nineteenth century, at the very end of the second wave: the Atlantic slave trade has been carried out for centuries. At this point in time, Britain was so powerful relative to its colonial competitors that it banned the trade (in 1807). It had profited from the trade at first, and it had profited from its hegemonic control of the trade later; now it could profit from enforcing its discontinuation. Its competitors could not continue their business and were still in control of a significant proportion of the slave trade. This ban left Britain in control of most of the globe’s ‘free trade’, a de facto quasi-monopoly. The humanitarian concerns that prompted the discontinuation of the slave trade in Britain were genuine, of course. Yet again a more efficient alternative mode of production was already available
42 The Atlantic Slave Trade by then: the wage relation plus an industrial reserve army (conversely, there is no industrial reserve army with slavery, its reserves must be purchased in international markets, which makes the system inflexible).10 By the early decades of the nineteenth century ‘free’ trade meant ‘British’ trade. Many in the northern states of the United States believed that they could also benefit from abolishing slavery –they also had alternatives already available (namely, the subsistence economy of the settlers in the west, and the wage relation of the industrialising cities of the Northeast). In the US, this contradiction ended in a bloodbath and civil war because other colonisers did not have and did not seek alternatives. Ironically, in an interconnected colonial world, the colonists in the US South were not seeking alternatives, and indeed were aggressively expanding the slave economy westward, because the cotton their slaves were producing was crucial to underpinning the alternative to slavery –wage labour –in Britain. Of course, abolishing the trade does not mean abolishing the institution. Indeed, in many cases abolishing the trade reinforced the institution, and in the slave South of the United States, for example, as the offspring of slaves became ever more valuable, slaves were treated more and more like real estate rather than chattel.11 Slavery as an institution continued in the US, Brazil, and Cuba for most of the nineteenth century. ‘Smuggling’ continued too, but new names for the old institution and slightly amended arrangements were also devised. ‘Apprenticeships’ in the British Caribbean were instituted in the 1830s for freed slaves. These alternatives to slavery looked like slavery and felt like it. In the following decades, but it was a protracted process, slavery was officially abolished everywhere. In Ethiopia, it was only after the Italian invasion in 1935 that it would be officially discontinued. It was a paradox: the apex of colonialism during the age of high imperialism was undoing a typically colonial institution. A similar pattern of development had been the case a few decades earlier in the Congo, where a corporate endeavour led by the Belgian king Leopold at the end of the nineteenth century was ostensibly aimed at terminating slavery in the region –in that instance a veritable genocide was carried out in the name of abolishing slavery. Rewind to the age of the Atlantic slave trade, when an intensifying triangular trade linked western Europe, the western coast of Africa, and the eastern coast of America. In this triangular system of exchange some manufactured European goods from Europe were delivered to African merchants and sovereigns (i.e., cloth, alcohol, iron bars, muskets, and silver), many, many slaves were sent to various locations in the Americas, and huge quantities of colonial commodities were sent to Europe for processing and further sale. There were many colonial formations. There were the European headquarters of this trade: Liverpool, Bristol, Nantes, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and many more locations. These were all eminently colonial cities. Some of the slaves ended up there –they had all been multicultural cities for centuries when the post-WWII migrations renewed their multicultural
The Atlantic Slave Trade 43 status. Then there were the many ‘factories’ or ‘castles’ established by Europeans and their collaborators on the African coast. There was very little territorial penetration in Africa at this stage, excepting what would become the Cape Colony, but the expansion of a colonial frontier there was driven by settlers escaping colonial control.12 And then there were the plantations in the Americas: in Brazil, in the islands of the Caribbean, and on the American mainland, north and south. And there were the colonial staples of the second global colonial wave: sugar, indigo, cotton, tobacco, and coffee (spices and specie had characterised the first). All colonial waves specialise in particular colonial commodities. Much later, but in a similar fashion, a sudden and insatiable demand for rubber would result in a new global colonial wave and in new forms of colonial slavery at the end of the nineteenth century ... Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Atlantic slave trade involved the transportation of enslaved humans from west and central Africa to the ‘New World’, but the trade was wider and implicated four continents over four centuries. Delivering the slaves to those who would exploit their labour at their destination –the planters and the forming creole bourgeoisies of the Americas, but many absentee owners were residing in Europe too –the trade was conducted by a number of European and African agents. There were raids, kidnappings, and other ways of procuring slaves, but usually procurement was left to African sovereigns and their soldiers, who also participated in the trade.13 Debt and slavery are related, then and now, and it is significant that many of those who were enslaved were sold because of debts or alleged debts. In any case, many of the African collaborators had become indebted to the slavers and needed to procure enslaved humans to meet repayments. Estimates are charged and vary, but it is calculated that between 9 and 12 million slaves were transferred across the Middle Passage throughout the whole period. It has also been calculated that at least 8 million more humans died while in storage, during ‘seasoning’, in transfer, or during procurement (this rendition is dehumanising and callous because the whole business was and there is no other way to describe it). The system was profitable, but typically inefficient because the slaves were relatively cheap. Indeed, procuring more enslaved humans was normally cheaper than ensuring liveable conditions, especially in Brazil. Conversely, in what would become the US, things were somewhat different because slaves were always relatively more expensive there. Racism and repression thus hardened in the US throughout the eighteenth century, especially because the reproduction of slaves became a vital consideration. They hardened even more during the nineteenth century because slaves were a commodity progressively less and less available in international markets. Then again, after emancipation, racism hardened even further in the US, as it was replaced by a new racial regime while the structures of racial capitalism were reconfigured and sustained at the same time.14 The ‘golden age’ of the Atlantic slave
44 The Atlantic Slave Trade trade was during the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, procurement became relatively more expensive, the profits accruing from sugar manufacture were greatly reduced, the relative size of the colonial trades had diminished, and growing slave resistance was making the whole enterprise less and less profitable. And yet, during the nineteenth century slavery expanded, even if the numbers would suggest otherwise, but as an institution it progressively relied more and more on existing slave populations for its reproduction. Initially, slaves were imported to Brazil and the Portuguese dominated the trade until approximately 1580. When the kingdom of Portugal became united with Spain, its colonial empire was savaged by Dutch, French and English attacks. In the Spanish colonies, slavery developed more slowly. Eventually, the Spanish Crown issued the asiento de negros, a royal commission, that is, a monopoly to trade in slaves. The slave trade, however, was a truly pan-European endeavour. It took time, and the transition between first and second global colonial wave was not neat, as the Spaniards, who controlled most of the South American continent and the Caribbean, even though only a few islands were actually occupied by Spanish colonists, initially relied on Indigenous labour through the institution of the encomienda. Only later a demand for slaves emerged in the low lying Spanish colonies (today's Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia), as new productions were undertaken in regions where there were no significant Indigenous populations available for exploitation, either because they had fled, because they were fiercely resisting, or because they had been decimated in war or by disease. Slaves were also imported to the islands of the Caribbean colonised by English French and Dutch concerns. They were also exported to the Mississippi Delta region. Overall, the trade in enslaved humans and the institution of chattel slavery were a complete disaster for Africa: there was net population loss, there was loss in manufacturing capabilities, imports from Europe contributed to discontinuing local manufactures, there was increased and endemic warfare to ensure procurement, there were population displacements, as people moved to safer areas, and there was the increased dependency of the local sovereigns on the trade.15 It could be even argued that this dependency created long-term problems for African sovereignties, as it promoted a tradition of ruthless and irresponsible governance. An indirect subjection via the trade thus led to unaccountability, a dynamic that would be repeated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when colonial regimes reconfigured their role from ‘civilising’ the natives to ‘protecting’ their often invented traditions.16 Even though some African polities did benefit from the trade, the long-term detrimental consequences affected the economy, demography, and society: raids and civil wars became commonplace (as noted, European slavers rarely kidnapped slaves directly for the trade because African participation was typically reliable). On the other hand, there was no direct colonialism in Africa. Paradoxically, direct colonialism
The Atlantic Slave Trade 45 in the nineteenth century followed the global discontinuation of the trade and the formal abolition of the institution, a crisis of colonialism was responded with acceleration. But this later colonial formation followed slavery in another sense. Structurally, Africa as a whole had been weakened. Africa would thus be dispossessed twice. (And it would not end there. As we will see, it would be similarly dispossessed by way of neocolonialism after the formal end of colonialism: relatively weak, only formally independent, the new states could not sustain their autonomy vis-à-vis powerful multinational corporations and their supporters in the governments of the ‘Global North’ and in international financial institutions.) Colonial subjection begets further colonial subjection. Wave followed wave. When appraising the slave trade and the legacies of chattel slavery it seems important to note that the trade was not only promoted by slave traders from many European nations and by colonists and planters; that is, by private enterprise freely trading in unfree humans. All the colonial governments and the metropolitan governments were directly involved in promoting the trade and in enforcing the institution it relied on. This was both in North and South America, in the Caribbean, and in Europe too. The colonial governments were involved because possessing a healthy and numerous slave population was the marker of a colony’s success, and the metropolitan governments were involved because possessing many colonies possessing a healthy and numerous slave population was a marker of one’s status as a colonial power (and a great source of fiscal revenue). The colonists were also involved because possessing many slaves would invite further capital investment. Acquiring slaves was thus a priority for colonial administrators and colonists who had an interest in developing their colonies and the trades that would provision them. If the governments were directly involved, if they were fiscally responsible because slavery generated revenue and because slavery balanced their books, then their successors are responsible. The current governments are now liable for reparations. *** The colonial commodities were grown in plantations. The main centres of the plantation world were Brazil, Hispaniola/ Saint Domingue, Jamaica, Cuba, the Mississippi Delta, and what would become the US South. The plantation economy was intensive: intensive growing, intensive harvesting, and highly specialised processing. Numerous plantations in operation meant that many more trades beyond the triangular one linking western Europe, western Africa and the Americas eventually became profitable, so even more colonial commodities were grown and manufactured and traded to sustain the production of colonial commodities grown in plantations. Food and other manufactured goods converged on the islands as well as enslaved humans. Little natural reproduction in the slave population, due to the brutality of the plantation regime, also meant that the slave trade needed to be constant. Conversely, the availability of newly traded slaves meant that the
46 The Atlantic Slave Trade plantation regime could be brutal. Colonialism thrives on violence, and it thrives on trade. And thrive it did, and for a long time. The plantation economies of the Atlantic basin developed in a context where there was practically unlimited demand for colonial commodities from Europe and sustained supply from Africa. The price for individual slaves was relatively constant and relatively low, which allowed planters to be violent and careless, as slaves could be cheaply replaced, while physically weakened individual slaves were less likely to resist, which further defrayed expenses in security. The plantation economy could also rely on an almost unlimited land base, which made expansion relatively easy. An intensive system of production did not need much land anyway, even though sugar depleted soils rapidly. Thus, the plantation economy could reproduce itself almost without limits for an extraordinarily long time (the small islands of the Caribbean were an exception). It could even allow the settlers who did not belong to the colonial elites to occupy vast tracts of land. For a very long time the settlers did not disturb the operation of the plantation regimes. They were part of a separate current within a larger wave. The colonies characterised by a plantation economy were (in rough chronological order): Brazil, Hispaniola, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, what is today’s Colombia, Venezuela, Curaçao, Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the Carolinas, Virginia and surrounding colonies (and many small islands in the Caribbean). Basically, the second global colonial wave affected the whole Atlantic basin in the Americas. Saint Domingue, which would become Haiti, was for a while the most profitable colony of all, which meant that slavery there was for several decades more profitable than slavery elsewhere. The plantations were worlds in themselves, either on actual islands, or on islands surrounded by an ocean of jungle on one side and an ocean of water on the other. There was one way out and one way in.17 Plantation life was segregated, but not entirely, and some ‘house slaves’ were employed as domestic servants. The planters, however, would become absentee owners if they could, that is, if their plantations and investments enabled them to live in the metropole. The plantations were then managed by paid overseers. Capital progressively became more and more abstract. Magnificent estates could be built back in Europe. But the slave trade resulted in other colonial formations besides the plantation. The ‘port factories’ in Africa, for example, territorial enclaves where Europeans enjoyed extraterritorial rights and were not subjected to local jurisdictions, even if they needed collaborators where their cannon could not reach, which was not very far. In these locations, often islands off the African coast, slaves could be stored, sorted, and shipped. There were more than 70 slave ‘forts’ in the coast between Senegal and Angola. One of these, Elmina, in today’s Ghana, became a veritable multicultural city. In the slave forts on the west African coast Europeans were exchanging anything that had a market.
The Atlantic Slave Trade 47 They were also typically seeking the permission of local rulers to establish themselves. These were not colonial relations, there was displacement but there was partnership, even if not equality, and yet these exchanges were furthering colonialism elsewhere, especially in the Americas, and siphoning out the strength of a continent beyond the forts and the surrounding communities. The consequences of a sustained demand for slaves were felt almost everywhere in Africa. Later, these enclaves constituted in the nineteenth century some of the bases for the expansion of direct European colonialism in the continent. By then the slave trade had been discontinued, but the devastation of the trade had been left behind. The slave traders could rely on royal or state- sanctioned monopolies: the governments would gain (monopolies are legally sanctioned privileges one must pay for), but also the traders would, as they were assured of the protected markets controlled by the guaranteeing kings. As the slave trade and the exploitation of slaves were remarkably profitable, the trade would promote colonial and imperial competition, and the various colonial powers would often directly intervene on behalf of their slave trading interests and compete to acquire port factories on one side of the Atlantic Ocean, and island colonies on the other. England and then Britain would become the leading slaver power and the slave trade financed the British global ascendancy in the eighteenth century. That British economic interests were involved in every section of the triangle should be emphasised: Liverpool became a wealthy trading port, Birmingham would produce the muskets for sale in African markets, colonial commodities would be processed in London, while its City would develop as a financial centre providing services for slaver operations.18 Furthermore, British colonial interests, interests located in the colonies, including the North American colonies of New England –the latter would trade intensely with the Caribbean –would also benefit. Each and every passage of the trade would benefit British interests, and the trade ultimately financed the industrial revolution (which in turn contributed to making the trade anachronistic). A similar development had occurred in France. It was profits accrued in colonial settings that had enabled the French bourgeoisie to consolidate and then seize power.19 Both elements of what historian Eric Hobsbawm called the ‘dual revolution’ –bourgeois democracy and industrial revolution –have a colonial origin.20 Many slave ‘camps’ were also established in the ‘New World’, where the enslaved would be made to wait for more favourable conditions of sale, and where they would be ‘seasoned’ to make them more valuable. These were not plantations but distributing centres of a closely organised and integrated plantation complex. Jamaica had one famous such camp. In these places, one crucial contradiction inherent in slave colonialism would be played out: the need to preserve slave lives as assets, and the need to repress them by exercising violence on their bodies and supposedly breaking their independent will. Resistance was never absent, and it took many forms, all
48 The Atlantic Slave Trade extremely worrying as far as the colonists were concerned.21 There were also Maroon communities, and escaped slaves managed to survive and establish at times veritable even if often fleeting slave republics. These communities sometimes raided the plantations, and their very existence made the slavery regime less harsh because these autonomous zones made collaboration with slaves, at least some of them, an absolute necessity to preserve the safety of the plantation’s fixed and mobile assets. Eventually, the system would collapse under the weight of its contradictions and against the competition of other modes of production: increasing slave resistance was making it less and less profitable anyway. Haiti became the first decolonised republic and won its independence against its many slaving enemies. Its suppression became unfeasible and not because it wasn’t tried, and not because only a few tried. The system would end because of imperial initiative as well. Denmark abolished the trade first, this kingdom did not rely on it much, but it was Britain’s abolition of the trade in 1807, as noted, that was crucial to eventual emancipation internationally. Britain opted for the ban because even if it was the largest slave trader it did not rely on the trade proportionally as much as its competitors. International debate on these issues was similar to today’s contestations over climate change and who should be enacting national legislation designed to mitigate the damage: like the developed countries who want to reduce emissions now but have benefited from fierce emission regimes in the past, Britain was leading the movement for abolition, but could do so only because it was enjoying the benefits of its long-lasting leadership in the trade. The abolitionist lobby in British politics became stronger and stronger beginning with the later decades of the eighteenth century and in the first decades of the nineteenth. Led by prominent evangelical William Wilberforce, the lobby even took control of colonial policy. After the trade was outlawed by the British, the British Navy would patrol Atlantic waters to stop foreign ‘pirates’. They would board vessels and inspect their cargo the way the Portuguese had once enforced the cartaz system. Actual emancipation would only be enacted in the 1830s in the British colonies, but ‘apprenticeships’ were instituted to replace slavery, and the relationship between former master and former slave was little affected. Many slave owners at the time were heavily indebted and were bailed out through various compensation schemes –the money came from bankers, who loaned it to the government, who used it to compensate the slave owners, who generally did not see the money because the bankers were holding it all along. Emancipation would only be enacted in 1865 in the US, and very late in the nineteenth century in Brazil. Britain would be abolitionist but would compensate the slave owners, not the slaves. The US would be a committed slave power until the Civil War but would confiscate the slavers’ property by enforcing abolition.
The Atlantic Slave Trade 49 As noted, the long-term global effects of the slave trade were momentous. There were significant population shifts, and Europe and North America witnessed population explosions, after the Indigenous demographic collapse that had accompanied the first global colonial wave. Africa’s population remained stagnant. Indeed, Europe’s population grew dramatically even in the presence of a strong migratory outflow towards the Americas, towards South Africa, and eventually towards Australasia. Profits from the trade were consistently higher than the available alternatives, even if somewhat riskier (that is why investors would often spread their investments over many slaving ships). These profits ensured capital growth, the availability and circulation of capital, and technological innovation too. James Watt’s research –he was the inventor of the steam engine –was funded by plantation owners. Historian and future Prime Minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago Eric Williams convincingly contended in 1944 that the industrial revolution could be seen as a development of the plantation economy.22 On the one hand, the working conditions in the sugar plantations of the eighteenth century, with high labour concentrations, intensive exploitation, and the need to rationalise production, foreshadowed the intensification of production that would be introduced in the European and North American factories of the following century. On the other, Williams argued that the profits from the sugar colonies and the slave trade financed the industrial revolution in Britain, which then spread across other parts of Europe. The global ascendancy of the ‘West’ was exogenous. It had originated elsewhere.
50 The Atlantic Slave Trade
Chapter 2 –Further Resources 1) ‘Stowage of the British Slave Ship “Brookes” under the Regulated Slave Trade’ (1788).
Figure 2.1 Stowage of slaves diagram of the British slave ship Brookes under the regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788 © incamerastock/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: the ‘efficiencies’ secured by a regulated trade are clearly represented by this image. The picture depicts a colonial commodity that is traded internationally. This is a regulated trade: legislative intervention had made the trade more expensive, as it ostensibly ‘improved’ conditions. It is significant that this is a British ship trading with former colonial ‘rebels’ (note the British flag). The trade was an instance where distinct colonisers collaborated with each other against colonised peoples, even if they would have likely disagreed on the colonial prerogatives of their respective metropoles. 2) ‘The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes’: http://www.slate.com/ articles/life/the_history_of_american_slavery/2015/06/animated_interactive_of_the_history_of_the_atlantic_slave_trade.html 3) University College London’s Legacies of British Slave- Ownership Database: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/
The Atlantic Slave Trade 51 4) The Trans- Atlantic Slave Trade Database: https://www.slavevoya ges.org/ 5) Movie for discussion: Amistad (1997) Note: This movie represents the institutions of chattel slavery at the end of their multicentury history. Question: Can the courts really adjudicate on this matter? 6) Chapter 2 –Main Points 1) Slavery is a type of ‘social death’; the ‘middle passage’ in the triangular trade that linked western Europe, western Africa and the Americas marked this ‘death’. 2) All the western European colonial powers traded in slaves –it was an enormously profitable business. Profits, however, were generally declining by the beginning of the nineteenth century and did not recover. 3) The Atlantic slave trade lasted between the 1440s and the end of the nineteenth century. Up to 12 million enslaved humans were transported from Africa to the Americas. Countless more died. 4) The plantations of the New World were expensive to set up but very profitable to run. 5) The slave trade actively dedeveloped Africa; on the contrary, the profits from slavery enabled Europe’s industrial revolution and sustained its global dominion. The economies of the colonies that hosted many plantations were fragile and remained so. They typically imported everything they needed and exported everything they produced; they imported many things and exported only one commodity.
Map 2.1 The Second Global Colonial Wave, circa 1550–1800
52 The Atlantic Slave Trade
7) The Second Global Colonial Wave, circa 1550–1800
THE SECOND GLOBAL COLONIAL WAVE
The Atlantic Slave Trade 53
Notes 1 A. J. R. Russell-Wood, The Portuguese Empire, 1415–1808: A World on the Move, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. For an argument about the ‘weakness’ of the colonising powers, see J. C. Sharman, Empires of the Weak: The Real Story of European Expansion and the Creation of the New World Order, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2019. 2 James Lockhart, Stuart B. Schwartz, Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983. 3 Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, New York, Harper & Row, 1984. 4 Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade: The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440– 1870, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1997. 5 Stephanie E. Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2007. For an analysis of other middle passages, see Emma Christopher, Cassandra Pybus, Marcus Rediker (eds), Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2007. 6 The trade was abolished in 1853 in Brazil, and the institution in 1888. 7 See Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason, Durham, Duke University Press, 2017. 8 Joseph E. Inikori, Stanley L. Engerman (eds), The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 1992. 9 Kenneth Morgan, Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007. 10 David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution 1770–1823, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1975. 11 This was African American scholar and militant W. E. B Du Bois’ intuition at the beginning of the twentieth century. See Zach Sell, ‘Real Estate Questions: Capital, Slavery, and Empire in the Early United States’, History of the Present, 10, 1, 2020, pp. 46–66. 12 John L. Comaroff, ‘Images of Empire: Models of Colonial Domination in South Africa’, in Frederick Cooper, Ann Laura Stoler (eds), Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997, pp. 163–197. 13 John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998. 14 See Wolfe, Traces of History; Cedric J. Robinson, On Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism, and Cultures of Resistance, London, Pluto Press, 2019. 15 Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Verso, 2018 ; Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World. 16 Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, Oxford, James Currey, 1996. 17 See Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1986 . 18 Nuala Zahedieh, Capital and the Colonies: London and the Atlantic Economy, 1660–1700, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
54 The Atlantic Slave Trade 19 See C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, London, Penguin, 2001 . 20 Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Revolution 1789–1848, London, Vintage, 1996. 21 See, for example, Stella Dadzie, A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and Resistance, London, Verso, 2020; Vincent Brown, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2008; Vincent Brown, Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2020. 22 Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press, 1994 .
3 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires
Mercantilism is a particular economic doctrine. ‘Political economy’, a scholarly discipline that is now known as economics, and trade and imperialism and colonialism are intimately related. Mercantilism characterises both the first and the second wave of global colonial expansion. Unlike ‘free trade’, the economic doctrine that superseded it during the nineteenth century, mercantilism envisages an exclusive relation between metropole and colony –the colony under mercantilism is bound to trade exclusively with the metropole and only to the latter’s benefit (and yet, as we will see, free trade and colonialism also go hand in hand, and whether a colony is involved in an unequal relation based on displacement and violence with one or with many parties is an important detail, but the relationship remains abusive). This unequal exclusivity would eventually be replaced by unequal inclusivity. And yet, inequality, the economic inequality that is one result of colonialism, will prove extraordinarily resilient.1 Everything will change and everything will remain the same: with mercantilism, what could be called ‘colonial changeovers’ are frequent, especially in the eighteenth century. With a colonial changeover, the particular metropole with which the colony exchanges its colonial commodities shifts, but the colonial relation and the subjection and violence that it implies remain. Most of the time, with a colonial changeover the specific colonisers residing in the colony do not even change, only the governor and his associates and the garrison are replaced. The shape-shifting ability of colonial regimes to reconfigure arrangements without addressing foundationally unequal structures will manifest itself time and time again. Mercantilist economic doctrine states that the wealth of a country depends on the quantity of specie that circulates or is held in its economy (i.e., gold and silver). It also states that colonies of a country, if the country has them, and it should, because they are excellent ways of obtaining specie, must ensure a constant flow towards the metropole of commodities that can be exchanged for specie –that is their job. International trade is thus interwoven with colonialism because specie flows away unless favourable terms of trade can be imposed. One way to impose favourable terms of trade is to control fiscal policy. Colonial trades and colonial monopolies crucially DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-4
56 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires rely on a denial of the fiscal sovereignty of the Indigenous rulers, and on an arrogation of fiscal sovereignty by the colonisers –that is how colonies operate. The trade policies they will choose invariably favour metropolitan interests, and conditions for a profitable trade can be easily sustained if the trade policies can be controlled and manipulated (and if one does not need to consider the interests of the colonised –that’s how colonialism works). Trade can thus be imposed, or even denied in an act of colonialist imposition: ‘opening’ an economy up is invariably a denial of fiscal sovereignty, and colonial blockades, which now are routinely called sanction regimes, are very similar circumstances. If colonialism travels with gunboats, it also travels with shiploads of cheap manufactures rendered cheap by decisions taken by colonisers and their cumulative effects over time. Gunboats and merchant navies often travel together anyway. Manufactured goods further colonialism by disabling local manufactures and by furthering economic dependence and inequality. Under mercantilism, the colonies are serving the metropole: either they are directly offering specie, for example, silver from Peru and Mexico under the ‘fleet system’, and gold from Australia and South Africa much later, or they are offering tradable commodities that can be exchanged for specie in international markets at prices decided by the colonisers in exchange for goods that are acquired at prices decided by the colonisers (manufactured goods would on average cost three times more in the colonies than in the metropole where they were produced).2 Still, this unequal exchange is not imperial tribute, even though it piggybacks on the inequality that tribute created, and even though tribute would be nice, if you are a coloniser, and indeed, as we have seen, sometimes tribute was exacted as well, especially when profits could not be obtained otherwise. The European sovereigns only benefit indirectly from colonialism, through the granting of monopolies, for example, or the exaction of import duties. Under mercantilism the colonies can only trade with the metropole to the exclusion of other traders, including foreign carriers, unless they purchase a special dispensation. This depresses the colonial economies because it forces them to specialise their production, and because this cripples their industries. Generally speaking, the colonies are unlikely to manufacture goods for self-consumption because they cannot compete with metropole-made goods (even if sometimes they do, especially when their productive units are remote). They sell cheap, they buy dear. They focus on producing one tradable commodity, the commodity that suits their climate and soil, and at times not even what could be profitably raised, but what is in demand in the metropole (and at times not even what is in demand there, but what a powerful merchant house that has interests in many colonies finds profitable to trade). A prominently positioned merchant house may need to trade slaves and demand that a colony invests in sugar even if there is a sugar glut in international markets, or they may demand that the colony does not produce coffee because they do not want to affect a profitable trade they have elsewhere or pay import duties as its ships
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 57 unload their cargo in the metropole (coffee was taxed heavily in England, no wonder tea was preferred). At times slaves would be purchased dearly to expensively produce sugar that was then sold cheaply. The same trading house benefits greatly from monopolising and monopsonising all the colony’s trades to and from the metropole: providing credit to colonists and subsidiary merchants, selling slaves, commercialising sugar and other raw materials on the one hand, and provisioning the European community in the colony with luxury goods and the local garrison on the other. The merchants could and would fiercely lobby in the British parliaments and formed a durable trans-factional ‘colonial’ party. And yet, the mercantilist concerns of all of western Europe, each country established its colonial merchant companies, did not only serve the merchant houses: they served the colonial planters, and the metropolitan consumers of colonial products, even if these consumers may have paid less for the same commodities if they had been feely traded. The fiscal military state structures of the countries of western Europe also benefited immensely. But not the colonised populations, of course, whether they were Indigenous or imported. No wonder that many former colonies are now the poorest countries in the world –the settler colonies are different, as we will see in the next chapter. Since the economies of the colonies must be compatible with those of the metropole, they must produce what the metropole does not; indeed, they should preferably demand what the metropole is producing too. This is what made the American colonies of Spain such a valuable asset: Spain could produce mercury, an indispensable element in the processing of silver, and had an insatiable appetite for the precious mineral. Colonies that produce the same staples the metropole is already producing, or those that focus on subsistence farming, are not that valuable, especially if they aim to trade their manufactures internationally. The North American colonies in the north and those in the west of what would become the United States of America, those in the west were impeded from profiting greatly when trading with Indigenous peoples because of the French domination of trade, were never that valuable to Britain, except as importers of manufactured goods. Moreover, the former developed manufactures quite early and were substituting British-made imports –they were actually detrimental to the British economy because they could not be excluded since they were ‘British’. The southern colonies in North America were, on the contrary, much more valuable to Britain and would become even more so with the spread of cotton there and with industrialisation in the metropole, except that by then they had already declared and won their independence. In some significant ways that independence had been a colonial changeover; those who were in charge remained in charge. The trades intensified. The adoption of mercantilist policies in the countries of western Europe promoted the acquisition of colonies because the colonial trades of each
58 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires metropole required colonies its traders would not be excluded from; that is, one power’s mercantilist policies demanded that the other powers also embrace mercantilist policies. Besides, mercantilism required colonies because often the relationship between metropole and colony was mediated by a third location –if bilateral trades could not be profitably pursued, triangular ones may be. There were other triangular colonial trades beside the already mentioned Atlantic slave trade: the Galleon of Acapulco, which connected the Spanish possessions in South America, Mexico and China via Manila and transferred silver one way and luxury goods the other way (a trade that lasted for nearly three hundred years), and later the trade between British India, China and the metropole, with silver and later opium going one way, silks, porcelain, and tea heading towards Britain, are examples of profitable triangular trades.3 All of this promoted the readying of port facilities and fleets, and the despatching of garrisons to locations from where exclusive trades and monopolies could be militarily protected from raiders and competitors. Permanent military bases were as necessary as the trade acts that declared the monopolies. The mercantilist colonies were typical of the second wave of colonial expansion and were progressively more and more expensive to run. Being expensive meant that the trades the colonies would support were even more necessary than before. It was an expansionist cycle.4 *** The mercantile trading companies based in European cities and linked to their financial centres are the main feature of mercantilist colonialism. The English East India Company is a typical example of such companies – established in 1600, it would become a colossal venture, too big to fail, and a veritable sovereign in its own right in India, with a foreign policy and an army.5 The VOC, the Dutch East India Company, was for a long time the most successful colonial corporate enterprise. There were many more examples of such companies, and each colonising power had their own. These were private companies, privately owned, and privately run, but they relied on the support of their countries’ navies and determination to ensure their profitability. Moreover, even if the state was not directly involved in these companies’ activities, it assigned trading monopolies and committed to defend their interests should they encounter opposition in distant seas, either from the native sovereigns or from their European competitors, something they inevitably did. Mission creep was inevitable, and gradually the companies, even if run by typically risk-averse directors in the metropoles, became territorial entities run on the spot by operators that were acting on their own behalf and not primarily in the interests of the company’s shareholders. In India, English and French ‘conquistadores’ accumulated enormous power and territorial possessions during the eighteenth century, even becoming at times local rent-gathering feudatories. Once ensconced, these companies were more than trading concerns; they were violent and ruthless powers heavily involved in local politics.
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 59 The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was a model for the other mercantilist corporations. In what would become Indonesia, the Company relied on monopolies on nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and other spices, but eventually it relied especially on its ability to force people to cultivate introduced cash-crops like coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar and opium. Accepting a cash crop in exchange for tax, and charging the local population the costs involved in the commercialisation of these commodities is an especially cruel form of tribute because often the communities subjected to these exactions had no food because they were forced to grow cash crops and were charged again for the privilege of importing it. The VOC’s returns for investments were consistently handsome. India was in the late eighteenth century a global economic powerhouse, accounting for up to a quarter of the world’s manufactured goods, no wonder that the Europeans wanted to trade and sought favourable terms, taking advantage of political instability. The Compagnie des Indes Orientales was active in Pondicherry, India. The Portuguese retained Goa; even the Danes had bases in India. Fortified trading posts in Asian port cities were the various East India companies’ initial bases. From these ‘factories’, at first, the European companies could trade only with the consent of the local authorities, but then, beginning with these bases, the companies became sovereign entities endowed with armies controlling extensive territories and taxing the peasantries living in them. At one point, indebted sovereigns in India sold the British East India Company the right to conduct the civil administration in their domains, together with the prerogative of having the Indian peasantry to pay for the privilege, thus ending up resembling and behaving like an empire rather than a colonial enterprise. This ability to tax was a crucial driver of further colonialism: as the Company was no longer forced to import silver to purchase Indian made goods, capital could be redirected away from the country and towards the metropole. This colonialism piggybacked on its predecessor. The ‘factories’ the English East India Company set up along the coasts of India needed protection from rival colonial entrepreneurs and from resentful local rulers or insurgents. The Company had been granted the legal prerogative to ‘wage war’, allegedly to secure its business, but taking advantage of chronic political instability in the areas it was operating in and in the surrounding hinterlands, it began conducting an aggressively expansionist policy. It built fortified structures and it employed a well- trained private army of mercenaries. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the Company became hegemonic in the country and was able to therefore siphon out the country’s riches unfettered. One after the other, most provinces fell into its control and a merchant outfit gradually turned into a rapacious landed concern determined to extend its rule to the whole of the subcontinent.6 Colonialism inevitably distorts markets: military force is needed to protect monopolies, and military force is needed to protect the ‘free markets’
60 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires that monopolies built. But monopolies are not always enforceable, and not only because other powers are routinely compelled to challenge some other king’s claims. The employees of the colonial companies, for example, always retained the privilege to conduct business for their own personal benefit – they were called ‘servants’ of the companies they were employed by, but they were often their own masters. ‘Smuggling’ also inevitably found a way to circumvent royally sanctioned monopolies. Significantly, the mercantilist companies always conducted their business while armed. Trade is not necessarily colonial, but armed trade inevitably is.7 Gunboats and globalisation, therefore, go hand in hand (capitalism and gunboats go hand in hand too: ‘corporate imperialism’ is ancient, and not only a neoliberal phenomenon characteristic of late globalisation in the early twenty-first century). And yet colonialism is not capitalism, and colonialism typically relies on crude and violent modes of appropriation rather than on more silent forms of compulsion. In the colonies, especially those set up during the second global colonial wave, but in the other ones as well, colonialism and racial capitalism in particular go hand in hand: under colonialism, the colonised are subjected not because they do not own the means of production (they do not), they are subjected because they are embedded in an unequal relationship predicated on violence and expropriation (and displacement). Indeed, as the moment of colonial appropriation precedes and enables the moment of capitalist appropriation, one could argue that capitalism is always raced and that it is nonracial exploitation that should be seen as a subset of racial capitalism and not the other way around, as it is routinely assumed.8 Besides, as a colonialist mode of production combines noncapitalist and capitalist modes of production, it is capitalism that is the exception, not colonialism that is the aberration. A distinction conceptually separating colonialism and capitalism is also important because the colonial institutions of mercantilism eventually became an impediment to emerging capitalist orders, even if they had previously sustained them. The crisis of the mercantilist trading companies between the late eighteenth and late nineteenth centuries often forced the state to intervene directly and assert its formal rule. This supersession, these colonial changeovers, were enacted in India between 1833 and the period following the insurrection of 1857, in what would become Indonesia after 1800, and eventually even in the Congo in 1909, following scandal and international outrage at the activities of a Belgian-based colonial company chaired by the Belgian king. Often, very often, the state would intervene in distant locations to bail out colonial investors who had invested unwisely, after the fact, or would preempt the activities of companies established with capital circulating in its financial centres in order to rein in unscrupulous operations. Thus, the crisis of one type of colonialism routinely produced a further colonial expansionary ‘wave’ that superseded the previous colonial regime by establishing another. It was a crisis-acceleration pattern rather than a crisis-retreat one.
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 61 Moreover, the new colonising wave did not always successfully or neatly replace the former ones; somewhere the ebb did not flow. Portuguese rule, even though Portugal’s global power had waned, persisted in Brazil. In 1654 the Dutch were finally evicted from their strongholds there. But Portugal’s restored ascendancy crucially relied on English support. In this instance, an older colonial regime survived a new colonial wave’s surge by relying on another wave –choppy waters. The Spanish colonial empire in the mainland of the American continent also successfully resisted its competitors’ onslaught during the eighteenth century (in the Caribbean islands, however, it gave much ground, had to withdraw from anachronistic dreams of hemispheric exclusion, and only retained Cuba, Puerto Rico, and a few more islands). Elsewhere ‘wave’ followed ‘wave’: the Dutch almost entirely replaced the Portuguese in the Indian ocean, but then the British forced out the Dutch from many eastern locales, and especially from India, even if not out of what would become Indonesia. Eventually, during the eighteenth century, Britain established its own colonial hegemony in Asia. An extended series of protracted colonial wars marked the British global colonial ascendancy in the eighteenth century, but the British had to resist the French colonial surge in Asia and in North America first. The British afterwards were able to exclude competitors from these regions (the French remained active in Africa and the Caribbean, and they would return to Asia, in Indochina, a century later). The already mentioned battle of Plassey in 1757 was the turning point in India; the ‘French and Indian War’ was the turning point in North America. The Seven Years War was the same global war fought in distinct colonial scenarios. Meanwhile, the British had overcome the Dutch and broken their previous hegemony over the carrying trade. There had been several Anglo-Dutch wars, and the Dutch had been expelled from the Americas except for a few islands and Guyana. But then Britain lost control to the North American settlers, which was a consequential defeat. And yet it did not matter much, because this loss would have been a disaster in mercantilist terms, but it was almost a boon in free trade terms. So much so that the independent American settlers had to squabble amongst themselves on the issue of protectionism: the more ‘colonial’ states preferred free trade –they still relied on the international exchange of colonial commodities –the more settler colonial states preferred tariffs. But this was already when the third and fourth global colonial waves smashed onto each other in North America. Elsewhere, the two global waves invested different regions and did not interfere much with each other. At the end of mercantilist colonialism, ‘free trade’ colonialism was already rising. Different global colonial waves thus overlapped in uneven fashion; ‘wave’ followed ‘wave’, and yet the impact of colonial domination was still somewhat limited during the early waves. The non-European world had remained intact beyond the areas that had been directly invested, and Indigenous populations recovered. Colonialism could not yet transform the societies it dominated (it could exploit them, however). Even in the plantation
62 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires colonies, where colonialism had built the local society, populations, and economy, there were significant restraints to its power. The planters knew they were sitting on a volcano of anger and resentment and feared with good reason servile violence. Elsewhere global colonialism was often indirect and informal, and it would have been rare for a peasant to have seen a coloniser yet alone to have interacted with them. *** Colonies often changed hands. The colonists would anxiously follow developments, the navies would blockade, sometimes an army would occupy, and afterwards the diplomats would deliberate. Colonies were exchanged at the end of the War of Spanish Succession, which ended in 1713, and at the end of the Seven Years War, which ended in 1763. They also changed hands during and in the aftermath of the revolutionary wars in North America, and then, later, during the European revolutionary wars. Mauritius in the Indian Ocean was Portuguese, then Dutch, then French and finally British. Trinidad in the Caribbean changed hands several times, in 1797 for the last time. Tobago too. The new colonial regimes typically respected the rights of the previous colonists; that is why the colonial changeovers were typically uneventful: a military occupation during war, then negotiations in some European capital, where the planters of the winning power would lobby their government not to annex colonies that were producing the same commodities they themselves were already producing, while the traders would lobby their government to annex them and thus exclude other merchants. Finally, after diplomatic and strategic considerations, changeovers were often agreed upon, even if the losing side would rarely be gracious about it. A colonial changeover could be temporary, when a colony was occupied during a colonial war and then used as a pawn in negotiations before being returned, or permanent. The Cape Colony witnessed one temporary changeover in 1795, and a permanent one in 1806. Manila, Havana, Batavia, and Guadeloupe were returned. The British gave Java back to the Netherlands in 1816, even though they acquired Singapore in 1819, which they turned into a settler colony for Asians (a demonstration that anyone can be a settler, just like anyone can be a coloniser), and Malacca in 1824, possessions that allowed them to control the eastern access to the Indian Ocean.9 On the ground, however, the same colonists had to address a governor appointed from some European capital, and little changed if the language of their address was a different one. Sometimes the changeover was dramatic, however. In Acadia, today’s Nova Scotia, Canada, the original French- speaking settlers were deported away to make room for a more reliable Protestant colony. As the eighteenth century progressed, the British increasingly became the default colonial power. There was a shift towards the Mediterranean in the eighteenth century, after a shift away from the region during the fifteenth had inaugurated the first global colonial wave, an original westward shift that had launched the first ‘age of exploration’. Gibraltar and Minorca
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 63 became British possessions. In the Mediterranean Sea, formal and informal colonies sustained typical colonial trades: wine, silk, citrus (used against scurvy in the navy and needed, with sugar, for marmalade), and olive oil (crucial for soap-making). Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Trinidad, Ceylon, the Cape, Singapore, and many more colonies became in due course new additions to an expanding British collection. Elsewhere, it was not different metropolitan powers superseding each other through colonial changeovers, but a foundational local expansionary colonial wave that displaced Indigenous political orders. In the North American prairies, in areas of India, in a more limited fashion in Southern Africa beyond the coastal settlements, and in an even more limited fashion in China, colonial relationships were established ex novo during the decades when mercantilist colonialism was being superseded by the new global colonial wave, the fourth. The colonial waves were superseding each other in older regions and engulfing new regions too. In Latin America, where there was renewed expansion during the eighteenth century, and where vast areas had been only nominally claimed by Spain previously, third and fourth wave modes of colonial domination were introduced on top of previous first and second style ones.10 In the Pacific Ocean, from new bases and with new technologies, during the late eighteenth century, the British effectively broke the Spanish claim to exclusive control and unleashed a ‘second’ age of exploration.11 The first age of exploration had typically ‘discovered’ readily exploitable countries and populations; the second (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand) typically only debunked myths about new readily exploitable regions laying just beyond the horizon. There was no massive and wealthy terra australis incognita waiting to be raided, plundered, and engaged with in profitable colonial trades. As one global colonial wave was superseding another, a first decolonising ‘wave’ also occurred globally. What is referred to as Pontiac’s Rebellion had made the British realise how expensive controlling the North American frontier would be. The ‘line of 1763’, which banned settlers from autonomously engaging in expansion and trade beyond a specified border, was the administrative response. The need to raise revenue was also driving British North American policy in the 1760s. This is what colonialism does: tax trade. The response to mercantilist initiatives came in the form of settler noncompliance. Many settlers headed towards the proscribed region despite the ban, while campaigns of ‘non-importation’ and settler self-consumption challenged mercantilist control. 1776 came, with the Declaration of Independence, the establishment of the United States of America, followed by war, by many other Creole Revolutions in the 1810s and 1820s elsewhere in the Americas, and, most significantly, by the Haitian Revolution in 1791, which was followed by a protracted period of instability and then by the consolidation of an independent republic in 1804.12 And yet, only in Haiti, independence could not be seen as a colonial changeover –all the other creole revolutions, ultimately, were transformations that left the structural
64 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires aspects of the colonial relation largely intact. The slaves remained slaves, the lands of Indigenous peoples remained the target of dispossessionary violence, while for much of Latin America informal empire succeeded formal political subjection. Different colonial formations followed each other, but colonialism remained. In a textbook mercantilist move the British Empire had sanctioned the limits of settler expansion in the Proclamation Line of 1763, allowing settlers to permanently reside beyond the line would make defending the frontiers expensive, a drain on finances the mercantilist state was keen to avoid. This attempt at containing or redirecting the surging waters of third wave colonialism in North America (see next chapter) would prove fatal as the dam would overflow at first (many settlers disregarded the line, and British troops could not stop them), and eventually burst. The mercantilist empire had demanded more revenue, but the settler colonists had objected. The state was taxing exports to the colonies, but the colonists had stopped buying and had boycotted British goods, including British-traded colonial goods (tea, for example). Settler victory in North America signalled the very beginning of the global ‘settler revolution’ of the nineteenth century.13 Third wave colonialism would supersede second wave colonialism in some areas, whereas fourth wave colonialism would supersede second wave colonialism in others (i.e., in Latin America, where the British established their informal empire). Not only third and fourth wave colonialisms would transform the regions they invested in unprecedented ways; they also invested regions that had not been previously subsumed. The Seven Years War had transformed the geopolitics of empire and left Britain strategically preeminent globally. Britain then reaped the benefits of further disruption in colonial scenarios during the European Revolutionary Wars that shook the continent between 1789 and 1815. Even if it had lost a few colonies in the 1776–1883 round of intra-European hostilities, it more than compensated those losses a few decades after. Britain therefore acquired colonies at a fierce pace (especially, even if only informally, the postimperial ‘creole’ ‘semicolonies’ in Latin America –a huge acquisition). The postrevolutionary Loyalist diaspora was a further driver of colonial expansion: the Loyalists were experienced colonialists, and they were already located in the many British colonies that survived the British defeat that was sanctioned in 1783.14 Again, colonial crises were followed by acceleration and expansion, not retreat. But by then, by the early decades of the nineteenth century, there were many more people to be ‘colonised’ according to a different meaning of the term, that is, to be transported away to some colony far away. There was a rapidly growing urban lumpenproletariat in the cities of Europe, and there was a sizeable rural disposable population following the enclosures and other dislocations, especiallly in the British Isles. Both populations were restive and ‘dangerous’, and the need for an ‘industrial reserve army’ for the nascent industrialised economy had to be balanced with the real prospect of
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 65 revolutionary upheaval, a prospect that loomed large in the imagination of the ruling European elites, especially after 1789. Enhanced urgency related to the need to dissipate contradictions and transport them away from the European metropoles was thus another factor in the acceleration of colonial expansion during the transition between mercantilist and free trade colonialism. After and during the industrial revolution, Europe was exporting people as well as much more of what it had previously exported (manufactured goods). The ‘global settler revolution’ would be driven by this export. The settler global revolution was promoted by new ideas about economics too. Mercantilism as economic doctrine was at one point paralleled, in France especially, by physiocratic ideas, a different approach to economic policy. Bullion was no longer the main focus; land was, and the populations it could sustain (the latter could be taxed, and soldiers could be conscripted from them, and growing populations were a promise of future revenue and conscripts). But if mercantilism had promoted colonial expansion, physiocratic ideas also promoted it! According to this doctrine, the settler colonies could be an important source of fiscal revenue, so they were seen as much more valuable than they had previously been. Physiocratic ideas about economics were then overtaken by free trade propositions, especially in Britain. It was yet another doctrine: ‘political economy’. The mercantilist logic was thus reversed: why colonise (and directly tax subjected populations) when you can profit from unequal terms of trade (that is, in terms they would not use but terms that aptly describe the colonial relation beyond political subjection, when you can profit from structurally unequal relations)? The ‘free trade’ thinkers asked rhetorically: why exercise direct colonial domination, an expensive undertaking, when one can enjoy the fruits of informal control and hopefully delegate domination to local elites that aim to look like you? In the case of India, an elite of ‘brown Englishmen’ was evoked; in the case of Latin America, local elites that think ‘Paris’ and bank ‘London’ were to be the preferred interlocutors. The political economists saw the colonies as unnecessary burdens, and the money spent on colonial administrations, navies, and armies to be despatched there as essentially wasted. They saw the colonies as anachronistic reflexes and noted that trade with America had grown after American independence. In particular, investment capital outflows supporting the expansion of cotton beyond the coastal regions had boomed.15 An industrial power needed markets as well as provisioning areas, they insisted; an industrial power could ‘conquer’ markets with cheap manufactures and profit, rather than with armies and navies and profit much less … But colonial trade policy was rarely entirely informed by free trade notions.16 Manchester- made cotton textiles could not replace local manufactures in India until the colonial authorities had deliberately destroyed the local industries with antiprotective taxation. India had once been a world leader in textile production, and the East India Company had profited greatly from trading in Indian produced textiles. Then the British
66 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires had raised tariffs to disable a competitor, and only afterwards, after crippling constraints had destroyed productive capabilities, they had demanded free trade to further restrict local production and conquer a captive market. But this ‘conquest’ had piggybacked on another. The political economists especially lamented the expense associated with colonial wars, which had become frequent and more and more burdensome as the eighteenth century progressed but were facing a reality that had been fundamentally shaped by them. Adam Smith, the ‘inventor’ of free trade, had been employed as a colonial bureaucrat and had reflected extensively on colonial matters and policies. He wrote Wealth of Nations, which was published in 1776, a book that changed the world as well as the colonial world.17 Many of the political economists that followed his lead also saw chattel slavery as eminently inefficient. They issued a similar rhetorical question: why exploit enslaved individuals when the alternatives are more flexible and indeed more profitable? Abolition as a political movement was strong at the beginning of the nineteenth century in Britain (and in New England). The industrial revolution was also strongest in these locations. A new colonial paradigm followed and replaced the mercantilist one because a new mode of production was emerging. The nineteenth century –the century of the ‘Great Transformation’ –followed.18 With industrialisation and with the end of inter-imperial competition following the British global ascendancy and the defeat of Napoleon’s ‘European block’ and its autarchic project, trade no longer needed expensive naval protection and resented the strictures and influence of established colonial lobbies and exclusive colonial relations. Trade could ‘naturally’ proceed to the advantage of the new global centre of capitalism and colonialism: London (of course, the very idea of a ‘natural’ order is profoundly ideological –there is nothing ‘natural’ in British domination, or in the domination of anyone for that matter, and it was the unequal relations of the mercantilist era that had produced the conditions for a profitable liberal global free trade order in the nineteenth century). Europe, and Britain especially, dominated because of colonialism, they did not colonise because of their superior culture or technology; the ‘Great Divergence’ followed colonialism. Free trade was an ideology (still is); colonialism, like all modes of domination, always produces its own ideologies. What about today? ‘Free trade’ is currently part of a global orthodoxy in economic thinking, and it has been since the triumph of the ‘neoliberal revolution’, which began in the early 1970s. This may be changing after the election of a protectionist US president in 2016, after Brexit (an outcome determined by crisis and shaped by imperial nostalgia and dreams of a new imperial federation), and after several more crises including a world trade stopping pandemic in 2020– 2021. Tariffs and protection, and deglobalisation, are now being proposed in the context of emerging populisms after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, renewed global recession, and after the intensification of the trade wars and rhetoric against
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 67 an emerging China. Now it is China that would recommend free trade. But neither the current neo-mercantilist vogue nor the previous neoliberal free trade approach can be seen as non-colonial. Both are premised on unequal relations, and both aim to maintain existing inequalities; they are opposed to each other, but they are both colonial. Likewise, even if they diverged from previous colonial experiences, third and fourth wave colonialisms were as colonial as first and second wave colonialism.
68 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires
Chapter 3 –Further Resources 1) Shah Alam II, Mughal Emperor, Conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, August 1765
Figure 3.1 Shah Alam II, Mughal Emperor, Conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, August 1765 © Danvis Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: On canvas, a treaty is being exchanged, a text, ostensibly a marker of equal relations, recognition, and reciprocity. This is a notion that is also supported by the evenly distributed parties represented on the canvas. The composition of this image reproduces the map –where east on the right meets west on the left. A contract is being exchanged, but like most contracts, it is only formally about mutual obligations –the reality is much different. Also note the explicit subversion of traditional imperial hierarchies: the Europeans are represented as upright, while the emperor is sitting and barely domineering. In a sense, this is the moment when colonialism replaces empire (and, paradoxically, when a mercantile corporation becomes a landed empire).
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 69 2) A half-woman half-skeleton representing free trade, 1885
Figure 3.2 A half-woman-half-skeleton representing free trade. Colour lithograph by Tom Merry, 21 November 1886 Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark
Note: this allegorical representation offers a defence of mercantilism and an indictment of free trade. It depicts depression in the metropole and economic opportunity in the colonies (the happy colonial characters that populate this image’s right section are especially relevant to an analysis of the intersections of mercantilism, free trade, and colonialism). And yet, contemporary critiques of free trade today would insist on the Global South’s structural disadvantage. How can this inversion be explained? Can one say anything positive about mercantilism today? It is not that easy (conversely, defending free trade is relatively easy, as this is still the dominant paradigm). What rhetorical strategies could be mobilised today in the defence of mercantilism? I suggest that one may start with ‘protection’ and the security it engenders –protection as a rhetorical strategy has its advantages (and in a deglobalising world, after the pandemic that began in 2020–2021, ‘protection’ as a trope is definitely back). It can be defended as a system that results in significant benefits. For example, how was the choice of excluding Chinese telecom corporation Huawei from Western markets justified in the very early 2020s? This was a most obviously mercantilist demand, even if it was framed as an issue of national security, because excluding a competitor from entering strategic markets amounts to upholding a monopoly … But if we still find it difficult
70 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires to argue for mercantilism and monopolies, this may be one result of a pervasive ideology: we live in an era profoundly informed by ‘free trade’, like the era when the image depicted above was produced. Yet again, mercantilism was hegemonic both before and after the era of classic nineteenth- century style free trade, and it may become hegemonic again in the near future. The history of global colonialism could be visualised as a pendulum swinging back and forth between exclusive and inclusive (and yet always unequal) colonial relationships. Mercantilism and free trade are opposite and yet collaborating stances, one manufactures unequal terms of trade, the other takes advantage of unequal terms of trade, further debilitating colonised polities and populations and ushering in further domination. They epitomise cycles of colonial expansion and consolidation. They are both profoundly colonial modes of domination, and one is the harbinger of the other … 3) Movie for discussion: Tupac Amaru (1984) Note: Native insurgencies threatened colonial orders for centuries. Colonial domination, once established, requires violence to maintain itself. Question: How was the insurgency defeated? Could the colonial order rely on local collaborators? Why was the insurgency the subject of a 1980s Cuban movie? 4) Chapter 3 –Main Points 1) During the second global colonial wave the Iberian monopoly over colonial affairs was broken and new western European powers entered the fray: the Netherlands, France and England, and then Britain (and Sweden and Denmark). 2) A de facto monopoly over colonial matters is eventually reconstituted, this time it is Britain that becomes hegemonic in colonial affairs (after 1763). The Dutch had been hegemonic in colonial matters during the seventeenth century. 3) Different parts of the world are more or less exposed to different colonial waves: the islands of the Caribbean and the regions where plantations could be established were the most exposed during the age of second wave colonialism. In the east, the aggressive policy of the merchant colonial corporations enabled significant expansion. Vast areas of south and South-east Asia became thus embedded in colonial relations. 4) Chattel slavery develops as an institution to meet the requirements of the plantation economy. 5) The economies based on chattel slavery became progressively less and less viable until slavery was discontinued in a protracted
The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 71 and uneven global process that lasted more than a century. It was anticolonial resistance that rendered slavery unprofitable. 6) The Atlantic triangular economy enriched Europe, devastated Africa, and created dependent economies in the Americas. 7) Mercantilism is the economic doctrine of first and second wave colonialism; it states that any country is as wealthy as its stores of gold and silver. Colonial mercantilism envisages an exclusive relationship linking metropole and colony. The colony can only import what it needs from the metropole and through the metropole’s merchants. It can only export what it produces to the metropole and through the metropole’s merchants. The merchants are thus simultaneously monopolists and monopsonists; no wonder they profit handsomely.
Notes 1 Leigh Gardner, Tirthankar Roy, The Economic History of Colonialism, Bristol, Bristol University Press, 2020. 2 Cipolla, Conquistadores, pirati, mercanti. 3 See Cipolla, Conquistadores, pirati, mercanti. Reaching China’s markets had been possibly the principal aim of all colonisers, but after China had been reached, a stubborn and chronic trade deficit had remained, together with a Chinese imperial determination to control all interactions with outsiders, so when opium would burst the levee that had protected China from the previous global colonial waves, and the fourth wave could then henceforth penetrate deeply into the country, as the ‘unequal treaties’ sanctioned the end of the previous equilibrium, the transformation was momentous. 4 D. K. Fieldhouse, The Colonial Empires: A Comparative Survey from the Eighteenth Century, New York, Dell Publishing, 1982. 5 Philip J. Stern, The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011; Robert Travers, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth-Century India: The British in Bengal, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007. 6 William Dalrymple, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company, London, Bloomsbury, 2019; Stern, The Company-State. 7 K. N. Chaudhuri, Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985. 8 Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2000 . 9 See Gareth Knapman, ‘Settler Colonialism and Usurping Malay Sovereignty in Singapore’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 52, 3, 2021, pp. 418–440. In Singapore, unlike elsewhere in Asia, the British introduced a new system of land ownership supported by the colonial state. The many settlers who moved to the city committed to the new settler colonial order. 10 Shannon Speed, ‘Structures of Settler Capitalism in Abya Yala’, American Quarterly, 69, 4, 2017, pp. 783–790.
72 The Mercantilist Colonial Empires 11 See O. H. K. Spate, The Spanish Lake, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1979. 12 Joshua Simon, The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017. 13 James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009. 14 Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World, New York, Knopf, 2011. 15 Onur Ulas Ince, Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018. 16 Donald Winch, Classical Political Economy and Colonies, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1965. 17 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, London, Bantam Classics, 2003 . 18 Karl Polany, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, Boston, Beacon Press, 2001 .
4 Empire by Settlers –The Third Wave
The third global colonial wave affected regions of the world that had been spared by the first two colonial waves. In many parts of the world this third wave was the first. Under this wave, colonialism demanded what the two previous waves had not needed as much. Not forced labour to be exploited in mines and on plantations (i.e., slave labour, or other forms of bonded labour), not tribute to be shipped back to the metropole, not trades to be taxed; third wave colonialism appropriated Indigenous lands more than anything else (first and second wave colonialism had appropriated land, but left Indigenous tenure relatively undisturbed).1 The settlers wanted land to cultivate and subsist, land to ‘improve’ and sell, and eventually land to grow surplus produce and sell. Now, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were growing markets for it. The settlers of the expanding settler colonial ‘frontiers’ first set up settler colonial commons that disregarded the property of Indigenous peoples. Later, land is turned into tradable real estate and populated by more and more settlers. These settlers farm and reside on it. The settlers thus first establish subsistence economies, but eventually end up producing for international markets as the settler economy is redirected away from subsistence and towards the production of internationally tradeable commodities. The third global colonial wave, the global ‘settler revolution’ of the nineteenth century, was largely simultaneous with the fourth global colonial wave, the age of free trade imperialism (see Chapter 5), but each would be engulfing different global regions: one centered on the temperate prairies of the northern and southern hemispheres, the other finally subsumed China, as it invested other locales in Asia and Latin America. The third global colonial wave manufactured enormous markets through the reproduction of many neo-Europes. The ‘transport revolution’ enabled the third global colonial wave.2 Previously, the temperate prairies had been almost inaccessible and non- subsumable in international networks of colonial trade –dispersed populations make formidable resistors and weak markets. Settler colonialism as a form of domination thus targets areas mainly unsuitable for other types of colonialism: inaccessible hills, coasts far, far away, and inland DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-5
74 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave plains. Indigenous decentralised polities were also making conquest by way of military expeditions impossible. Exacting tribute was also unviable; there could be no settler conquistadors. Cabeza de Vaca’s fate, compared with that of Cortes or the Pizarros makes for an interesting contrast: the former’s odyssey in the Gulf country saw him being suffered as a ‘guest’ of his Indigenous interlocutors, and he knew it.3 But to profit from the temperate prairies and forests, the third colonial wave also relied on the industrial revolution in Europe. Cheaper transport had made the trades viable, but it was growing demand for food from expanding industrial European cities that made the prairies and forests profitable. And it worked the other way round as well: as the settler farmers were expanding and multiplying at a fierce rate, they could afford to import the manufactured goods that the industrial cities of Europe were now producing. They could also rely on relatively cheaper credit because their polities were growing rapidly, they were importing migrants at a fierce rate, and were expanding aggressively. And they could rely, unlike the other colonial polities, on an enhanced degree of political autonomy. The settler colonies resented European mercantilism, and typically embraced free trade. When it suited, later, they could argue for protection and promote the local manufacturing sector (British manufacturers could profit from comparatively better margins over local manufactures –Britain was for decades the ‘workshop of the world’ –so the settler economies, and their developing manufactures especially, did need protection). But the settler polities could enact protectionist policies. No wonder the settler economies fared better in the long term than their colonial counterparts. Moreover, often and for a long time, the settler farmers had formed primarily subsistence communities: they self-consumed and would sell very little of their surplus. In a sense they were ‘lost’ to the global economy (the settler colonies were ‘lost’ too from a mercantilist point of view: they were not exporting great quantities of a limited number of commodities, like the other colonies did, and they did not import food or other goods, like the other colonies did).4 It may have been a hard life, the planters relying on slave labour typically lived more comfortably than the ‘free’ settlers, and profited way more, but the developing settler colonies were in a way protected from unequal relations of exchange. Dispersed communities of settlers are really hard to tax, and relatively little trade could be generated from their settlement. They do not produce for the market, or only a little proportion of their produce reaches the market, so tax inspectors have to get to their dispersed hamlets and sometimes this is not advisable, as the settlers are armed (and restive –there were many settler insurrections along the eastern North American seaboard in the eighteenth century). The settlers import, and imports could be taxed, but then it is the European manufacturers who resent the fiscal pressure, and then the settlers may end up not buying, as they did in North America before the War of Independence. This autonomous economic foundation of the colonies of the third global colonial wave
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 75 is in stark contrast to that of the plantation economies that are typical of the second one. The plantation is immediately embedded in the global economy; it has no autonomous foundation away from international networks of commodity exchange –it is dependent. The settler farm, on the contrary, is initially autonomous; and when it becomes embedded in developing networks of exchange, it can rely on the benefits of this independence. Countries that enjoyed this autonomy at first have fared better than countries that were immediately subjected to unequal terms of exchange. This is a better explanation for their different performance than the alternatives that have been proposed –institutions, language, culture, etc.5 For about three hundred years in the global history of colonialism, Europeans departing European shores and residing in distant colonies would rather be traders if they could, raiders and rent seekers if they needed, colonists lording over Indigenous societies or owning and exploiting slaves as an alternative, and only subsistence farmers surrounded by more subsistence farmers if they really had no other option (the Pilgrims and the Puritans who went to New England in the seventeenth century were exceptions, they had other motives). Farm-making was incredibly hard and unprofitable work, and unless there is sustained demographic growth, the market for subsistence farms remains chronically depressed because many settlers are setting up farms around the farm one is ‘improving’, and there is land everywhere, so prospective buyers could just drive their wagon further down the track if they did not have the cash. Later, the settlers of North America would drive even further afield, to Oregon, or to Texas, or to California. They would start again rather than pay for the improvements someone else had added to a farm. As a very powerful narrative of settler expansion reminds us, it takes only one man to build a ‘little house’ in the prairie. On the other hand, the land is inhabited and owned by Indigenous polities, and their claims must be cleared, which can be expensive, or ignored without consequence, which is very rarely possible. This must be done before third wave colonialism can flood new regions. It can be expensive, but at times it is relatively inexpensive. Epidemics and invasive species may have already sapped the resilience of the Indigenous economies, and in these circumstances land is cheap. Settler colonialism as a mode of domination thus is unlike the other modes of colonial domination we have encountered so far: while first and second wave colonialisms aimed to subjugate and exploit Indigenous populations, or to subjugate and exploit imported ones, the settlers aim to remove or eliminate the Indigenous peoples they encounter, or to relocate them away from their growing communities. Third wave colonisers typically did not need the colonised, or, better said, do not need them as much as other colonisers do. While on the ground, conditions are always far from these ideal types, relationships become especially complicated when second and third wave colonisers inhabit the same colonial setting, which happens frequently. Different colonisers can disagree mightily on who they should dispossess and where and how they should profit.
76 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave That settler colonialism is a mode of domination that is born out of the colonisers’ limited options, where the settlers perform menial labour because they do not have the strength to demand that colonised populations do it, or the money to purchase other humans, should be emphasised. Settler colonialism is also born out of geopolitical weakness. The English promoters of settler colonial endeavours, for example, thought of planting colonies in North America because they could organise little colonial trades at first and believed that perhaps some trades could be established after the local economies had been established. Besides, at first the English could not get a foothold anywhere, really. The acquisition of Jamaica in 1655 was the real turning point for English colonialism; the US would much later become a global hegemon that consolidated out of a collection of rebellious colonies, but the value of the colonies of North America for the economy of the metropole had been very limited.6 But there is another significant peculiarity that characterises settler colonialism as a mode of domination: if colonialism as an unequal relation manages heterogeneity by definition as it reproduces it, the settler colonies, on the contrary, manufacture homogeneity (or aim to). Under settler colonialism, homogeneity is a byproduct of the destruction of Indigenous lifeworlds and autonomy. Homogeneity must be created by way of reducing Indigenous difference. There is a final significant difference separating the distinct modes of colonial domination: a relationship between coloniser and colonised under first and second wave colonialism is turned under third wave colonialism into a relationship involving three collectives. A binary relation becomes a triangular one, because under settler colonialism the settler collective is simultaneously pitted against Indigenous ones and against a variety of exogenous ones (i.e., unfree labour forcibly deported to the colony, the immigrants who are entering the colony and yet are distinct from the settlers, and other colonialists who have not committed to a life in the ‘new’ land).7 Some are assimilated, others are racialised. When trade could not rely on existing networks of subjection, where large Indigenous empires could not be conquered because they were not there, and where plantations producing colonial commodities could not be profitably established, the only remaining option for the colonisers was to populate and, for the moment, subsist. The beginnings of this colonial formation were not auspicious, but these colonies became more profitable with time. They had an important endowment that set them apart from other colonies. The settler colonies that were being established did not pay tribute or rent at first; they were only nominally subjected to the metropole. They also developed and took advantages of new technologies specifically suited to their circumstances. They were able, for example, to turn land into money in a way that was simply impossible in the metropole. Foreclosure is a technology of dispossession that was first experimented on Indians in North America and then, eventually, on everyone everywhere. Foreclosure erased the distinction between personal and real property, a distinction that in Europe made losing one’s land almost impossible. Foreclosure turned
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 77 Indigenous land into credit –and credit could be treated as money.8 Land thus became in the settler colonies a liquid asset, and paper money was also invented on the early American frontier.9 Credit propelled the settler economies in a way that was impossible elsewhere and gave them an extraordinary dynamism. The settlers would also develop centralised archives for transacting in real estate –the Torrens title is an Australian innovation that travelled widely. The Torrens title made real estate portable and certain, because the settlers could now move with their property, and real property was thus turned into chattel (humans had been turned into chattel during the previous colonial wave and continued to be treated as such during the successive one).10 If colonialism is an unequal relation premised on displacement, the ability to transfer property across space is greatly enabling: during the global settler revolution, one remained a coloniser as one moved across space. Their displacement could rely on an enormous propulsive force.11 All sorts of people moved more than ever before after the transport revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but new migrations had begun even earlier. The sixteenth century saw the beginning of new types of collective migrations –within Europe at first, but then outside of it too. The Reformation had divided Europe, countries, and communities, and both toleration and its opposite were drivers of collective migrations – new communities were now on the move, either because they were expelled or because their conditions were deteriorating, or because they were seeking a more welcoming political environment elsewhere. Consolidating royal absolutisms and the wars of religion displaced people at a fierce rate, but it was not just refugees; at times, communities would deliberately choose to relocate elsewhere. A more promising and more tolerant regime, they often reasoned, would enable a more appropriate collective life, and there was no better tolerance than that afforded by blue water, a distance that the absolutist kings found hard to breach. Huguenots, religious dissenters, and the political opponents of newly empowered sovereigns were looking for new places. Previously, one was born in a community –there was no choice on the matter. But new ideas about voluntary belonging to community and church meant that some groups did not see themselves as tied to the nation or to specific localities. The possibility of setting up new communities overseas was considered because there was a demand and because there was a new political doctrine for it. New France, Virginia, and New England were established in the very early 1600s (after some failed experiments); this is way before settler colonialism could generate its own global colonial wave. Puritan New England was established in 1629. The Massachusetts colony did well because it was immediately autonomous and proclaimed to be so, and because it did not need to be profitable to satisfy investors in the metropole. It also relied on a completely new theory of colonisation; its promoters had learned from previous colonial failures and had concluded that to be successful a colony must be immediately sovereign.12 There was a new doctrine, and there were a few
78 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave successful examples too. Settler colonialism as a mode of domination that displaces rather than subjugates Indigenous peoples had already been tested in Ireland during the plantation of the sixteenth century.13 The ‘British’, a new term that was invented in Ireland to identify a composite collective that had not previously existed, had gone to Ireland to stay, and to build new communities and a new society. It was a new development in colonial practice: the English had dominated Ireland for centuries, but as lords lording over local peasants first wave style, not as third wave settler colonialists. Other processes also contributed to shaping the new global colonial wave at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The enclosures in Europe and especially in the British Isles, where peasants were pushed out of their ancestral homes, and other processes of primitive accumulation had mobilised people in unprecedented ways. The dispossessed peasants went to provincial towns, to rapidly expanding cities, but many also went overseas.14 Previously, only adventurers considered displacing, while indentured servants and convicts did not have much of a say as to whether they were to be shipped out. As the eighteenth century progressed, many more considered voluntarily displacing. Eventually, the possibility of shipping a whole society out became thinkable –in the British Empire this mode of colonising was called ‘systematic colonization’. The early experiments of this kind had been the Protestant resettlement of Nova Scotia, and the English ‘Settlers of 1820’ who went to South Africa. The settlements of the New Zealand Company and of South Australia in the 1840s and 1830s respectively were later attempts. In the US Republic, similar experiments in organised settlement were also tried in what would become Ohio, for example, around Marietta. Now colonisation was no longer only about setting up another (second rate) place, it was about setting up a place that was other (and better).15 *** Once established, the community of settlers needs security: military and economic. Settlers want land, and if they can rely on a consistent flow of immigrants, even more land for further settlement. Indeed, further settlement is absolutely needed because land is the only available security, military, if Indigenous resistors can be subdued, and economic, as many settlers speculate in land in the expectation that many more settlers will make it valuable. Sovereignty is also a type of security. Settler claims to land and sovereignty are crafted in a number of ways but the settlers invariably claim both. Land can be acquired by treaty, that is, by recognising that the land belongs to someone else but only for the purpose of them relinquishing it and the settlers acquiring it. Fraud is always the easier way to acquire land in these cases, indeed, the only way that land can be acquired in these cases, especially considering that whether land can be ceded at all in the context of Indigenous tenures most often remains unclear.16 Alternatively, settler claims to land are crafted by assuming that it is terra nullius, or land that belongs to nobody, since it has not been fenced or ploughed, and that therefore it is land that can
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 79 be lawfully claimed by settlers for the first time. The first mode of acquisition characterised the conquest of the eastern part of North America and New Zealand, the second mode characterised the western part of North America and Australia. At times, the settlers claim they own the land because they have acquired it by military conquest and have signed a treaty with defeated Indigenous people who allegedly signed it away. This latter claim was often crafted in southern Africa and sits conceptually between the other two. The settlers initially establish and enforce settler commons out of dispossessed Indigenous property –in many ways they reconnect with commons they were forced to leave behind in Europe. These commons are highly disruptive for Indigenous communities and their systems of property: game is hunted beyond its ability to reproduce, deadly viruses proceed ahead of the settlers, Indigenous cultivations are destroyed by introduced animals. Herbivores and pigs are the ubiquitous shock troops of the settler invasion, the real ‘pioneers’ (a military term indicating a foot soldier that advances ahead of the rest of the army). Scarce resources are depleted, or access to them is monopolised by the invading newcomers.17 Then the settlers proceed to turn a commons into their privately held property and enact the ‘changes in the land’ that in the long run turn a colony into a metropole in its own right, a new core from where new settlements are spawned.18 But the communities of settlers thrive on Indigenous cooperation too: the trades and exchanges that characterise many ‘frontiers’ of settlement are examples of settler–Indigenous collaboration, and there are many such examples in the history of settler colonialism as a mode of domination. At times the settlers faced veritable tribute-gathering Indigenous empires; they did so for example in southern Africa and in dealing with the Comancheria in what would become the western US.19 These arrangements, however, are often unstable, and are eventually superseded by successive waves of incoming settler colonisers who typically disregard previous agreements and commitments. The incoming settlers expect to own land and to pass it down to their children. They could not do so where they are from, that is why they want to do so where they have moved to, or they could once, but market forces have now transformed the societies they have left and they no longer can, and that is why they want to do so where they have moved to. It becomes a race between two distinct settler colonial waves. First come the settlers that are escaping the ‘market revolution’, then come the contradictions and the market revolution, which catches up and extends its reach.20 Neither wave is good news for the Indigenous communities. The settlers embraced a new theory of land possession: in their opinion, labour mixed with land produces property. It is productive labour, but it produces more than produce; it produces a claim to ultimate ownership (it is a strange theory, like saying that because a factory worker has mixed his or her labour with a machine, or some other means of production, he or she has a claim to it, which is an argument that makes sense unless you own the means of production). Empire, as we have seen, is a highly centralising
80 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave affair, but the settlers establish empires that are decentralised. They do not need a sovereign to confirm their claims –they need a hoe and fences and cadastral archives and registers. In a sense, the settlers resent all sovereigns, whether they are the Indigenous ones preventing them from accessing land they see as available, and whether the sovereigns are located far away in distant metropoles (this latter relationship is controversial because the settlers also often need the distant sovereign’s soldiers for protection against other colonisers and against Indigenous resistors). In the meantime, the settlers compromise, negotiate, accommodate, all of the above at once and in different proportions, and local circumstances and power relations shape their actions. Where they can, the communities of settlers display an eliminationist drive against the Indigenous peoples of the land.21 After the settler acquired the land and established viable settlements, then networks of settlements, entire rapidly expanding settler societies grew. These societies are phenomenally expansive and land hungry: settler commons need land, subsistence economies need land, each son needs a new farm, and there are many sons, and there are many immigrants, and they too are hungry for land. It is calculated that about 55 million Europeans departed the Old World for new ones in the century after 1820: unemployment, enclosures, unrequited nationalisms, and the radical transformation of the countryside along capitalist lines had produced an unprecedented flow of landless immigrants.22 Eventually the settler polities became formally and politically independent: either they conquered their independence against the metropole, or they negotiated it. They then controlled the state, and their political institutions promoted further settlement. When their polities become formally independent or self-governing, they acquire the capacity to conduct their internal affairs, a capacity that other colonies very rarely would acquire, even after independence. But for some settler societies there is also ‘recolonisation’, when the settler colonies fall back on the imperial ‘embrace’ because they perceive their cultural fragility, for ideological reasons, and because the settler economies grow progressively more and more compatible with those of the metropole. Industrialisation in the metropole turns the settler colony into an economic appendix, a semiperiphery. ‘Recolonisation’ can be seen to have happened to Australia and New Zealand.23 The third global colonial wave established a global pattern of settler neo-Europes: in southern Africa, North America, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Far East, and in Central Asia. From a metropolitan perspective, however, especially at first but progressively less so during the second half of the nineteenth century, this global colonial wave was not as profitable or rewarding as the first two had been, and as the simultaneous fourth one was. War on the settler frontiers was frequent and extraordinarily expensive, control loose, currency scarce, revenue limited, logistics inordinately complex. At first, many of the settlers were seen as rebarbarised individuals and their communities as marginal. Conservative politician Edmund Burke
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 81 had referred to the ‘English Tatars’ of North America. The metropole was intent on controlling all colonisers, including the settlers, of course. At the end of the eighteenth century the metropolitan governments assumed control of native affairs everywhere, in what would become Latin America the mita and the tributo were abolished, in India the ‘servants’ of the East India Company were prevented from acting on their own, and in North America the Proclamation of 1763 tampered with the rights of settlers to do what they wanted with the locals and with their lands beyond a specified limit. The settlers are problematic from a colonial and mercantilist standpoint, and the image of a degraded European living far from civilising influences is eventually only overturned during the global ‘settler revolution’ of the nineteenth century and as a result of it. But eventually the ‘pioneer settlers’ were routinely represented as specimens of a better humanity, and the ‘frontier’ as a regenerating experience. What a change from previous representations! The ‘settler revolution’ thus triumphed in ideological terms too, and the settler frontiers eventually became sites for political experimentation and possible social and personal regeneration (utopian traditions focusing on remote locations had existed already, but they were given new life during the nineteenth century). Edward Gibbon Wakefield organised the ‘colonial reformers’ and this groups promoted the settler revolution in the British Empire. Wakefield aimed to save what he called ‘capitalist civilisation’ in both the metropole and the periphery, and wrote the Durham Report (1838), which proclaimed that the settlers of Canada would self- govern, and this provision was in due course extended to the other settler colonies of the British Empire. Notably, the self-governing settlers of the British Empire acquired the right to set taxes and tariffs, which was in a sense the end of colonialism: a tariff enacted by the settlers upends colonialism, while all tariffs undo colonial free trade (see next chapter). Many in the US espoused similar ideas. Other European thinkers also imagined new and virtuous communities established in lands far away: Robert Owen, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry George all engaged with the prospect of building regenerative worlds somewhere else. Frenchmen Henry de Saint Simon and Alexis de Tocqueville espoused similar ideas. All these thinkers believed in one way or another that the world was changing fast and in often unwanted ways, that moving to an ‘empty’ place and starting anew (while avoiding growing contradictions in another) would provide a practical example of the ways society could be organised, and that this example could then be followed everywhere.24 However, land to move to eventually ran out. Many in the US west, for example, had been allocated more than they could use, and many were speculating. The movement to ‘unlock the land’ during the second half of the nineteenth century was a global settler colonial affair, especially in Australasia and North America, and an indication that the third global settler colonial wave was waning. The ‘homesteaders’ in North America and the ‘selectors’ in Australia had found that settlement was extremely difficult because they
82 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave were often indebted and because now they needed to produce for markets rather than subsist like their predecessors had done –the settler revolution was in crisis. Large land-owning railway corporations supported by lobbyists ensconced in capital cities far away, grain elevators, banks, indebtedness –agrarian populism was a settler colonial response, but the populist insurgencies were repeatedly defeated. By the early decades of the twentieth century, the prospect of life on the land was becoming less and less appealing. Representations of ‘backwards’ communities of settlers and concerns about decultured life in remote locations cropped up again in successive decades (unsurprisingly, the end of the settler revolution had ideological dimensions too). The third global colonial wave ended in the ‘pioneering fringe’ of the early twentieth century, in diminishing returns, while the ‘great plough-up’ of the 1920s ended up in the Dustbowl.25 The Dustbowl still shapes our collective imagination today –the image of a world turned upside down, where dirt is above rather than below. The settler revolution and the global ‘great land rush’ were over.26 *** The ‘rush’ and the wave may be over, but settler colonialism as a mode of domination is ongoing; this wave’s tidal floods never receded in many countries. Third wave colonialism is ongoing, for example, in the relationship that the settler polities entertain with their Indigenous counterparts in North America, in Australia, in New Zealand and elsewhere. The settler polities, unlike the imperial ones, who manage heterogeneity, and could often accommodate forms of indirect rule (see Chapter 6), have consistently aimed to promote ethnosocial homogeneity. The history of Indigenous-settler relations in the Anglophone settler societies after ‘postcolonial’ independence, what was essentially a colonial changeover, can be briefly outlined with reference to the various policies that have been pursued at different times: elimination, removal, incarceration, allotment, absorption, miscegenation, assimilation, incorporation, termination, self- determination, recognition. These policy frameworks were constantly changing, were never applied uniformly, were different from settler country to settler country, but were never good news for Indigenous sovereignties and political autonomy. The boarding schools of Canada and of the United States were spaces of death and deculturation – inmate mortality rates were staggering. Of course, these were also spaces of resistance and survival, but only recently have there been serious attempts to address the legacies of this traumatic and genocidal past.27 Officially enforced ‘recognition’, and variously defined ‘reconciliation’ processes are the latest policy, a current affair in all the settler societies that have originated in the third global colonial wave. Official apologies, the prospect of new constitutional arrangements, and a United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 are all developments that affect the settler colonial polities, where indigenous peoples remain marginalised, disenfranchised, dispossessed, while their insurgent demands are repressed, and where settler colonialism remains ‘a structure’ and not ‘an event’.28 Of
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 83 course, this does not mean that the Indigenous collectives have been passive in the history of settler colonialism –resurgence movements and claims to sovereignty characterise Indigenous militancy today and in the past. Facing the offer of settler-determined recognition, many Indigenous peoples now utter their ‘refusal’.29 But settler colonialism as a mode of domination is ongoing in the relationship that the settler polities entertain with their exogenous counterparts too. A determination to control the population economy, of course, extends to controlling immigration: the co- ethnics, those who can immediately assimilate, were always welcome; those who could assimilate are mostly welcome (the borders of this acceptability change, and the Irish, the Jews, and the Italians, for example, were all eventually assimilated in all the settler societies), but those who are perceived to be unassimilable are permanently rejected. There are various strategies to enforce this rejection: containment and deportation, or ‘colonisation’ away from the settler locale, being the most frequent ones. Anti-Chinese exclusion, epitomised by the ‘White Australia’ policy, which only ended in the 1970s, was a policy setting that characterised the whole of the settler colonial Pacific rim. Even if nowadays the multicultural arrangements that were eventually adopted in the 1960s and 1970s are in crisis in many of the settler societies, the settler multicultural policies were a way to normalise the settler colonial standard, not a departure from its operation. Then again, the floodwaters of settler colonialism did recede in some locales, and the settlers at times did fail to establish viable and permanent neo-Europes. Demography sometimes goes against the settlers, and sometimes the settlers fail to emancipate themselves politically, while the metropole begins pursuing an imperial policy that subjects the settlers rather than unquestioningly providing support.30 Sometimes the community of settlers departs the colony at the end of colonialism. The Rhodesians and, before them, the pieds-noirs of French Algeria were long standing communities by the time of their disestablishments. Now these settler colonies live primarily online. There were the white Kenyans and many other European settlers in Africa. The Japanese settler diaspora, especially from Manchuria and Korea returned to Japan after defeat in WWII, and the Italians and, later, the Portuguese were also repatriated after defeat. At times the settlers renegotiate their presence and domination, like they did in South Africa after the multiracial elections of 1994, or in New Caledonia after a political settlement was reached with nationalist Kanaks in 1988. Many of the settlers of South Africa, those who have not actually left, now practice ‘semigration’, and move to the beach suburbs of Cape Town, or to secluded and fortified enclaves.31 At times the settler community is safely entrenched, but the neo-European project could not ultimately succeed. Zionism had carved out a very peculiar settler-colonial project in Palestine through various waves of immigration after 1881.32 After 1948, after the Palestinian Nakba, and after the ethnic cleansing of most of the
84 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave Indigenous Palestinians, a settler society came into existence. After 1967, the settler project re-emerged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, but the Indigenous people were not transferred away from newly acquired territories (even if many Indigenous Palestinians were transferred away). In this instance the localised version of third wave colonialism began relatively late, even though it is still ongoing. Will the settlers end up dominating demography like the settlers of other settler societies did? Will they renegotiate the terms of their presence like some settler collectives have done? Beyond Israel–Palestine, it should be noted that many of today’s global conflicts are premised on settler colonialism as a mode of domination. The third global colonial wave leaves waterlogged terrains once it recedes. Recent political developments in various parts of Latin America, where the class divide is also a racial divide, which is also often an Indigenous–settler divide, in Ethiopia, where Oromo lands are being colonised by populations coming from the north, and in Kashmir, where the Indian state is enforcing a localised settler colonial project, epitomise this legacy.33 Tibet and Xinjiang are subjected to Han Chinese state- sponsored immigration, Indonesian settlers are establishing a ‘new’ Indonesia in Irian Jaya, parts of the southern Philippines were recently settled by Christian immigrants hailing from the north of the country, while Western Sahara, currently occupied by Morocco, also confirms this pattern. There are settlers left over in the ‘frozen conflicts’ of Europe as well: in Cyprus, for example, where Turkish settlers have occupied the island’s northern half, in Eastern Ukraine and in Crimea (‘Ukraine’, after all, means ‘frontier’, and eastern Ukraine is also called, like many settler colonies were in relation to their originating metropoles, ‘New Russia’), and in Ireland, where the descendants of the settlers of the sixteenth century are facing the descendants of the Indigenous peoples their ancestors had encountered. The latter contestants came finally to a political accommodation, but the post-Brexit need for a physical border between the parts of the island where settler colonialism failed and the parts where settler colonialism succeeded is now complicating intercommunal relations again. The Amazon Forest in Brazil is also being settler-colonised right now, especially after right- wing evangelical protofascist president Bolsonaro’s election in 2018. The region was literally burning and there was a public outcry in August 2019. There are Indigenous peoples there, there are the claims of the non-Indigenous landless, many are moving there in search of opportunities, and there are the claims of large landowners supported by transnational industries producing commodities for export. A similar process is also underway in Indonesia’s palm oil ‘frontier’. Soy and palm oil are today’s colonial commodities: they are traded in international markets located far away from the plantations and lands where they are grown, and an insatiable demand from the industrialised countries of the Global North sustains the land grabs of the present.34 The third global colonial wave is indeed ongoing.
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 85
Chapter 4 –Further Resources 1) John Gast, American Progress, 1872
Figure 4.1 John Gast, American Progress, 1872 © incamerastock/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: ‘Progress’ is allegorised here as a woman carrying a law book and a telegraph cable: jurisdiction and its displacement. But this picture is also a map, and like all maps, this image tells a particular story, a settler colonial story of transformation. There is light at the eastern end, but not at the western one, and the settlers hail from the east. This is also a representation of a moral geography, and the Pacific northwest is not here represented as a promising locale. And there is significant movement, ‘progress’ is literally an advance. The railways are advancing, and the settlers are advancing, and the latter are replacing the miners, who are moving on. The settler is depicted as he is enclosing the land. But the miners had previously replaced the Indians, and the latter are depicted as they follow the indigenous fauna and the wild beasts … This image, however, as well as an allegory and a map, and a representation of a seemingly choreographed movement of many characters, is also a prophecy: it is predicting what it believed was going to happen. It was a powerful prophecy.
86 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave But a lot is happening beyond the map too. The blue water one can glimpse at the eastern end of this picture foreshadows a world of trade and colonial connections. The ships are connecting these lands with the outer world. The settler colonial world was never entirely disconnected from global economic trends, and the third and the fourth global colonial waves were globally interwoven. 2) Migrant family travelling by foot on highway, Oklahoma 1939
Figure 4.2 Migrant family travelling by foot on highway, Oklahoma 1939 © Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: The Depression and the Dust Bowl forced the ‘Okies’ to abandon the land. This snapshot was taken in the 1930s. Like image 4.1, this iconic image is also a map. Compare this image with the previous one, the one crafted in 1872: the light, as it can be discerned from the long shadows these characters are casting, is where the Okies are going to. At the image’s western end, California beckons. The ‘immigrants’ are walking westward but their movement resembles that of the Indigenous refugees depicted in ‘American Progress’ ... They leave behind the darkened skies of the dust
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 87 storms, and not the ‘civilised’ and literally enlightened ways of the eastern seaboard. This image still captures movement, but the settlers now move as refugees. The Dustbowl was a world literally turned upside down. Its impact on our collective imagination was long lasting, and a recent science fiction movie like Interstellar (2014) rehearsed the Dustbowl before suggesting that facing environmental catastrophe humans should seek another planet and settle there. The differences between images 4.1 and 4.2 epitomise the heyday and the end of the ‘global settler revolution’. Despite the mythology of the frontier, the American century was largely an urban one. 3) Movie for discussion: The Piano (1993) Note: The movie is about the fate of settler artifacts and cultural baggage on a settler colonial frontier. Question: Does the settler indigenise? 4) Movie for discussion: One Night the Moon (2001) Note: The movie is about the opposition between Indigenous and settler approaches to land. Question: How is land depicted in the movie? How do the different characters relate to land? 5) Chapter 4 –Main Points 1) The transport and the industrial revolutions turned regions previously inaccessible and unprofitable (from the point of view of colonisers) into new fields for colonial expansion –the third global colonial wave could then invest areas previously spared by the previous waves. 2) Third wave colonialism targets the temperate prairies, and entire continents. It does not primarily seek rent, tribute or labour. It primarily seeks land. 3) Third wave colonialism does not primarily seek to subjugate colonised ‘others’; it seeks to displace them from their homelands. It operates in accordance with a ‘logic of elimination’. 4) Settler colonialism as a mode of domination is centrifugal –the settlers run their affairs almost immediately. The settlers aim to establish homogeneous polities (even though they fail); other forms of colonialism, on the contrary, are centripetal and manage heterogeneity. 5) Third wave colonies have an autonomous beginning; this is why they generally become prosperous economies (i.e., the US, Australia,
88 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave Canada, New Zealand). This is in marked contrast with the colonies established during the first and second global colonial waves, which generally remain economically underdeveloped. 6) New technologies of dispossession are developed in concomitance with the third global colonial wave: foreclosure, paper money, and centralised cadastral and property registers. The previous waves had also developed specific financial technologies: insurance, the limited liability corporation, and the stock exchange. Foreclosure is a technology that turns land into a liquid asset, enabling speculation in land. The Torrens system of title registration turns land into moveable property. 7) Settler colonialism as a mode of domination is ongoing in the settler societies and in many parts around the world. Communities of settlers are settling disputed regions today.
Map 4.1 The Third Global Colonial Wave, circa 1630–1930
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 89
6) The Third Global Colonial Wave, circa 1630–1930
THE THIRD GLOBAL COLONIAL WAVE
90 Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave
Notes 1 See Edward Cavanagh, Lorenzo Veracini (eds), Routledge History of Settler Colonialism, London, Routledge, 2016. 2 Philip S. Bagwell, The Transport Revolution London, Routledge, 1988 . 3 Alex D. Krieger, We Came Naked and Barefoot: The Journey of Cabeza de Vaca Across North America, Austin, University of Texas Press, 2002. 4 Donald Denoon, Settler Capitalism: The Dynamics of Dependent Development in the Southern Hemisphere, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1986. 5 For a rehearsal of these alternative explanations, see David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, New York, Norton, 1998; Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, James A. Robinson, ‘The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation’, The American Economic Review, 91, 5, 2001, pp. 1369–1401. 6 Michael Adas, ‘From Settler Colony to Global Hegemon: Integrating the Exceptionalist Narrative of the American Experience into World History’, The American Historical Review, 106, 5, 2001, pp. 1692–1720. 7 Lorenzo Veracini, Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, Houndmills, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 8 K-Sue Park, ‘Money, Mortgages, and the Conquest of America’, Law & Social Enquiry, 41, 4, 2016, pp. 1006–1035. 9 Katie A. Moore, ‘The Blood That Nourishes the Body Politic: The Origins of Paper Money in Early America’, Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 17, 1, 2019, pp. 1–36. 10 Brenna Bhandar, ‘Title by Registration: Instituting Modern Property Law and Creating Racial Value in the Settler Colony’, Journal of Law and Society, 42, 2, 2015, pp. 253–282. 11 Patrick Wolfe described the ability to rely on an almost inexhaustible store of capital, knowledge, and demographic power as ‘preaccumulation’. Patrick Wolfe, ‘Purchase by Other Means: The Palestine Nakba and Zionism’s Conquest of Economics’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2: 1, 2012, pp. 133–171. 12 Agnès Delahaye, Settling The Good Land: Governance and Promotion in John Winthrop’s New England (1630–1650), Leiden, Brill, 2020. 13 Nicholas P. Canny, ‘The Ideology of English Colonization: From Ireland to America’, William and Mary Quarterly, 30, 4, 1973, pp. 575–598. 14 Joanna Brooks, Why We Left: Untold Stories and Songs of America’s First Immigrants, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 15 Lorenzo Veracini, The World Turned Inside Out, London, Verso, 2021. 16 Stuart Banner, How the Indians Lost their Land: Law and Power of the Frontier, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2007. 17 Allan Greer, Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires and Land in Early Modern America, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2018. 18 William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, New York, Hill and Wang, 1983. 19 Pekka Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2008. 20 Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815– 1846, New York, Oxford University Press, 1991.
Empire by Settlers – The Third Wave 91 21 Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005. 22 Marjory Harper, ‘British Migration and the Peopling of the Empire’, in Andrew Porter (ed.), The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume III: The Nineteenth Century, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 75–87. 23 Belich, Replenishing the Earth. 24 Veracini, The World Turned Inside Out. 25 Isaiah Bowman, The Pioneer Fringe, New York, American Geographical Society, 1931. 26 John C. Weaver, The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, 1650–1900, Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003. 27 See Truth and Reconciliation of Canada, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada, Ottawa, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015. See also, for Australia, Australian Human Rights Commission, Bringing Them Home Report, 1997 (available at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/ files/content/pdf/social_justice/bringing_them_home_report.pdf). 28 Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event, London, Cassell, 1999, p. 163. 29 Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2014; Glen Sean Coulthard, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2014; Nick Estes, Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance, London, Verso, 2019. 30 See E. Elkins, C. Pedersen (eds), Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century: Projects, Practices, Legacies, Abingdon, Routledge, 2005. 31 R. Ballard, ‘Assimilation, Emigration, Semigration, and Integration: “White” Peoples’ Strategies for Finding a Comfort Zone in Post-apartheid South Africa’, in N. Distiller, M. Steyn (eds), Under Construction: ‘Race’ and Identity in South Africa Today, Johannesburg, Heinemann, 2004, pp. 51–66. 32 Rashid Khalidi, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017, London, Profile Books, 2020. 33 Richard Gott, ‘Latin America as a White Settler Society’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 26, 2, 2007, pp. 269–289. 34 See Amalia Leguizamón, Seeds of Power: Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Soybeans in Argentina, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2020.
5 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave
The third and fourth global colonial waves were simultaneous. Like the third, the fourth global colonial wave is also in many ways ongoing. Its waters never receded. The fourth global colonial wave began at the end of a multicentury-long age of mercantilist colonialism, after the colonial crisis of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The post-mercantilist age of free trade did not necessarily rely on direct, formal dominion and was often characterised by nonexclusive relations linking the European metropoles and the subjected polities. Inequality remained; dependency often became even more entrenched but was now hidden beyond the formal appearance of equality. A semi-colony could trade with multiple partners, and all colonisers could profit equally, but only in theory, because it was not a level playing field, and because many of the legacies of mercantilist colonialism remained. Centuries of mercantilist exploitation and monopolies had indeed shaped a most uneven field, and Britain was now the colonial uncontested hegemon –the other colonisers could not compete. More widely, Europe and the ‘West’ were now ascendant more than ever before – the rest could not compete (the Europeans who resided in the Americas of course could and did compete). Europe’s global domination at the beginning of the nineteenth century was unassailable; it would never be this unchallenged again. The ‘Open Door’ policy imposed on China after its armies were decisively defeated in the Opium Wars epitomises the new wave of colonial expansion. China was thereafter semicolonised by a multiplicity of foreign interests during what the Chinese nationalist historiography calls a ‘century of humiliation’. Feelings referring back to this experience are a crucial driver of current Chinese foreign policy. The fourth global colonial wave –the imperialism of free trade –engulfed regions of the globe that had been spared by the previous expansionary colonial waves (i.e., China), even if it also engulfed regions that had witnessed previous waves (Latin America). If the third wave smashed onto Indigenous societies with unprecedented destructive power, the fourth wave also invested with unprecedented transformative power. Transformation and destruction of course are often the same process seen from different perspectives. The shift between waves was also geographical: thanks to DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-6
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 93 steam technology many rivers became navigable, and this is how the third and the fourth global colonial waves could now force their way into previously hostile geographies (hostile to colonisers, that is, not to the people who inhabited these regions). There was another momentous shift, however. Previously, the colonies had not been great consumers of European traded goods, now they were subjected to double unequal relations of exchange because they massively consumed goods manufactured in the metropole as well as offering cheap raw materials for processing in the industries of the metropole. Colonies now were markets as well as providers of commodities. Empire formally retreated in 1763, 1783, and 1825 in the Americas. These are the dates when the French, the British, and then the Spanish dominion in the continent formally ends –a few possessions remained for a while, indeed, for a long while, especially in the Caribbean, but projects of European continental domination after these decades were unrealistic. The ‘Monroe Doctrine’, formalised in 1824, even if it became enforceable only much later, would sanction this new geopolitical fact. The outcome of a French attempt to seize Mexico in the 1860s would again end in imperial retreat. Empire receded, and yet, paradoxically, it enjoyed a few uninterrupted decades of unfettered exploitation. This paradox can be explained with reference to colonial changeovers and to piggybacking on already established networks of subjection. First, the creole collectives that took over the new republics in the western hemisphere, excepting for Haiti, were collectives of colonisers. These had been the ‘creole revolutions’.1 Second, the colonial trades and the financial ties that linked the Americas and Europe intensified and became in some locations yet more unequal than before. Colonialism did not need to formally dominate precisely because it was dominating, and because it could rely on committed and influential local collaborators –the emerging new comprador bourgeoisies. Nobody proclaims or enforces a monopoly when they have already cornered the market. Colonialism was in retreat precisely because it was advancing! Besides, on the ground, the shift was not that momentous. Tax evasion and smuggling had been widely practiced for centuries in the whole of Spanish America; mercantilism had already been circumvented. The new arrangements proved that smuggling is criminalised free trade, while free trade is merely a type of legalised smuggling. The economic doctrine of free trade colonialism was crafted by the political economists –a group of influential intellectuals who shaped public discourse in Britain during the initial decades of free trade colonialism (i.e., Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, and many others). But Grotius (a Dutchman, and the founder of international law) had already argued for ‘free trade’ when the Dutch were at the peak of their colonial power, even if he had not used the expression. He had argued for the ‘freedom of the seas’; for him no one should be allowed to ‘claim’ the seas, or to exclude any power from trading anywhere. Grotius had argued against exclusive colonial monopolies because the trading interests he was representing were strong enough to undersell their competitors (all colonial hegemons promote
94 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave free trade because it is convenient for them, but if there is no hegemony mercantilist protectionism predominates). The political economists argued that the loss of the colonies of the first British Empire and the increasing trade with the independent federal state that had succeeded them demonstrated that formal colonialism was unnecessary, that it was an expensive mercantilist relic. They argued that the ‘workshop of the world’ (i.e., England) did not need to raise revenue from the American settlers; it needed to sell them goods and profit from investment opportunities. Independence had worked well for all, they argued (they had not asked the Indigenous peoples or the enslaved, of course –indeed, independence and increased trade had furthered their subjection). A transformation in religious sensitivities in Britain had also contributed to changing public attitudes towards empire: missionary activities became especially prominent at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the evangelical lobby would even come to control British colonial policy in the 1830s in an ultimately futile attempt to prevent the third global colonial wave from spilling over.2 Similarly, the political economists argued: why own slaves when one could ‘contract’ other types of equally unfree labour?3 Slaves had always been replaceable, now slavery itself was no longer irreplaceable (except that in some regions, in the US south for example, it was irreplaceable, as far as the slave owners and their customers in Britain were concerned, and therefore it rapidly expanded).4 Slavery, however, was abolished in the British Empire, even though it was still profitable and even if it was stubbornly defended by a powerful lobby. Then again, the profits that could be earned from slavery –from the trade that supplied enslaved humans and from its exploitation –were diminishing and no longer competitive with other ways of investing in colonial settings. Globally, the ‘coolies’ from India and China were the ‘free’ bound workers of the post-abolition world. The convicts that were sent to Australia, and many of the emigrant-settlers now heading en masse for the colonies were also in a sense a response to the abolition of slavery in the British imperial space.5 ‘Free’ and ‘bound’ were often hard to disentangle, and the coolies were bound labourers even if they had signed a contract, or agreement (a contract they would have been unable to fully commit to, since it was typically stipulated in English). About twelve million workers left their countries to work in plantations and railway construction sites overseas. The indentured labourers from South Asia went to Mauritius, Malaya, British Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Kenya and Uganda, South Africa, Fiji, and Australia. The colonial state was constituted by the ability to control and direct this migration.6 However, slavery in many ways continued. The ‘apprentices’ in the British Empire after emancipation were still bound to labour for their previous masters. In practice, emancipation in the Caribbean meant that the former slaves were turned into a ‘free’ labour force that could not move and could only be employed by the owner of the plantation where it was located. The former slave owners were compensated for their loss with funds proceeding
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 95 from a government loan. Even in the US, after abolition, the Thirteenth Amendment had reintroduced slavery by another name. Imprisoned freedmen were leased out to companies and to private individuals, so there was a contract, even if the labourers were obviously unable to consent. And yet, despite what the political economists may have argued, many colonisers still needed chattel slavery as a formal relationship of subjection.7 Capitalism still needed slavery, and despite discontinuities and the emergence of wage labour arrangements in Europe, global capitalism still relied on slave labour during the nineteenth century. The slave trade was no longer legal, the British Navy even contributed to its repression by boarding suspected vessels crossing the Atlantic Ocean during the first decades of the nineteenth century, and alternative unfree labour arrangements that resembled slavery proliferated, but chattel slavery thrived and expanded, especially in the US South, certainly not a marginal region in the context of the global economy. Britain effectively sided with the Confederates during the Civil War. Cotton needed slaves, and the industrial mills of northern England needed cotton (just like later, industrial processes would need rubber, and rubber would need slaves). Cuba and Brazil also needed slaves. Sugar, tobacco, and coffee needed slaves and international trade needed these commodities. Cotton harvested in the US South enabled the British mills to flood India with cheap products. India had been a net exporter of cotton fabrics but was now importing textiles in great quantities. Colonialism still advanced on the back of enslaved labourers. British victory in the Seven Years’ War, a veritable world war fought in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and India, was followed by British defeat in the next round of colonial conflict. It was a moment of major reconsideration of colonial priorities; the first British Empire gave way to the second. Likewise, defeat against revolutionary France prompted reform for Spain’s empire. For a while it looked like Spain’s empire could be reformed to the point of becoming again a working imperial ensemble. Cuba especially became a laboratory of Bourbon colonial reform. It was an ostensible success: taxes were introduced and exacted, and centralisation and rationalisation became official policy. But again, this colonial ‘victory’ begat ultimate defeat, because the creoles now resented the peninuslares even more, the latter were the colonists who were arriving from Spain with first and second wave colonial pretensions. The former were looking for alternatives, and independence from Spain could be endorsed by Britain (for a price). Britain would not directly take over, it would not be exactly a colonial changeover, but an independence that is underpinned by the intercession of an imperial power while most of the population is still subjected to colonial relations of exploitation looked and felt like one. After 1763, the French were left with a few sugar islands (i.e., Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Saint Domingue), only a handful of possessions on the Western coast of Africa and in India, and ‘rights’ over Newfoundland fisheries. After the French and the Haitian revolutions, the ‘pearl’ of this still
96 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave profitable colonial empire went its own way. Haiti fully conquered its revolutionary independence in 1804, but it was only recognised internationally decades later. It had been a protracted and extremely destructive war, an anticolonial revolution with significant international implications; indeed, the Haitian revolution was a world affair involving British and Spanish interventions as well as those of the former colonial power.8 Haiti is impoverished and marginal now, but it was once the most profitable colony and Napoleon committed sizeable resources to recapture it and to reintroduce slavery there. Sustained international conflict meant that the Haitian revolutionaries could skilfully play one coloniser against the others.9 Imperialist wars thus created the conditions for decolonisation, a pattern we will encounter again in this book. There was determined anticolonial resistance, and there was skilful diplomacy by Haitian leaders, and yet the first independent Black republic was boycotted internationally. An economy built exclusively for export was denied access to international markets, a mighty blow. And yet there was no restoration, no return to slavery; at least this one was not a colonial changeover but a genuine decolonial process. It did not end well: isolation, poverty, then recognition, but at a heavy price, which brought chronic indebtedness, and finally, in 1915, the US occupation, a de facto recolonisation masked by a cosmetic acknowledgment of independence, followed by further misery and underdevelopment. Only in 1865 did the US recognise Haiti –it was during the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War, another ‘unfinished revolution’, another decolonising process, however tentative, that ended in defeat.10 The independence of the Latin American creole republics followed the Napoleonic wars and the collapse of the metropolitan government structures. Imperialist wars resulted in a decolonisation of sorts. The centre did not hold, and when it tried to reassert its authority, it could not recover it. The creoles fighting the Spanish king’s loyalist forces turned the tide of war in 1817. Thereafter all the colonies fell one by one, and by 1821 even Mexico, the first Spanish colony on the American mainland, was independent.11 The interruption of the relationship between metropole and colony –there was no trade or communication during the British-enforced blockades that accompanied the Napoleonic wars –and the collapse of ‘legitimate’ metropolitan authority resulted in the independence of the former colonies. The Spanish constitution of 1812, which had been crafted under British supervision, had prospected an undoing of colonialism that would have allowed the colonies to be represented in Madrid, a sort of taxation with representation, but these provisions could not be enacted. An attempt at colonial restoration following restoration in the metropole in 1814 also failed. The British recognised the independence of the new republics and provided diplomatic cover. Brazil’s independence from Portugal similarly followed the collapse of metropolitan authority. This time, however, the Portuguese king had travelled to the colony and installed himself and his court in Rio de Janeiro. They had all travelled on British ships in 1807. When the ‘legitimate’ authority
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 97 was restored in the metropole, two ‘equal’ kingdoms had been proclaimed, Portugal and Brazil, but the king had remained back in Brazil. A metropolitan king governing from a colony that could be seen as an empire was an upending of the ostensible subordination of the colony. Formal independence for Brazil would follow in the 1830s. *** ‘Empire’ was ‘dormant’ between 1815 and the 1870s; there were no major colonial campaigns during these decades. And yet empire actually expanded at a rapid pace in many regions of the world during these decades: in the western part of North America, in Australasia, and then there was the Russian expansion in the Caucasus, in Central Asia and in the Far East. Algeria was occupied first, and then subsequently and most violently ‘pacified’, while large parts of southern Africa were colonised by trekking Boers and by expanding Britons. The Argentinian state extended its reach southward in a genocidal campaign of Indigenous destruction, and the Dutch were completing the consolidation of their empire in what would become Indonesia. Moreover, China had been subdued after two consecutive Opium Wars, and there were many ‘minor’ colonial campaigns in southern Asia –the British Indian army fought in Burma in the 1820s, in Afghanistan in the 1830s, and in Sind and in Punjab in the 1840s. The British Army also fought in southern Africa (against ‘the Kaffirs’), and against the Maoris in New Zealand. And then there were campaigns against rebellious slaves in the Caribbean … so much for dormancy! Yet again, where empire was not challenged, where the previous global colonial waves had already performed their corrosive labour, where already colonised polities and subsumed economies were unable to resist the exercise of colonial domination, free trade and informal control were the preferred way of exercising colonial domination. The whole of Latin America, for example, became subjected in one way or another and to varying degrees to British capital and its informal empire.12 Colonialism also intensified –and in the British Empire the prerogatives of the crown and its representatives increased significantly and thus eroded ancient colonial ‘liberties’.13 True, there were no major imperialist wars (that is, wars fought by Europeans against each other outside of Europe), whereas there had been many during the eighteenth century, but there were many, many imperial wars, wars of imperial expansion. Britain, Europe, and the ‘West’ were hegemonic. The industrial revolution was happening in much of Europe but was being felt everywhere: manufactured goods and capital were aggressively searching for new markets. They found them in the settler colonial semi-peripheries. These ‘new’ countries had become profitable and offered excellent investment opportunities, they imported manufactured goods on credit, and after the ‘booms’ that had established them had ended in sustained depressions, their recovery was based on exporting raw materials. They also found them in Asia, and especially in India and China, countries that were becoming
98 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave subsumable to expanding networks of global trade in new ways.14 Cheap manufactured goods and new technologies consolidated Europe’s ascendancy: thanks to new medical knowledge, Europeans could now live in the tropics, where previously they had died in great numbers –quinine had made malaria and other tropical diseases less deadly. And European soldiers could rely on new and improved fire guns and could thus project firepower in ways only gunboats had previously been able to. There were now telegraphs, railways, armoured warships, military uses of steam technology –the technological gap between Europe and its others reached a peak sometime in the middle decades of the nineteenth century.15 Much was ‘new’ and powerfully transformative in the nineteenth century.16 The profits from colonial and foreign investments were very competitive for decades. Later, however, beginning in the late 1870s, a reducing rate of profit would spur the ‘new’ imperialism’s scramble. A new mercantilist colonial era then beckoned, especially considering that the new steam vessels, unlike sailing ships, needed a network of coaling stations, which prompted a new race to secure possessions at adequate intervals. The first half and the middle decades of the nineteenth century could thus be considered the heyday of colonialism, the highest water mark of all global colonial tides.17 During the period between 1763 and the 1880s, Europe’s ascendancy over the rest of the world was effectively uncontested, even if anticolonial resistance never disappeared, of course, and was expressed in myriad distinct ways. The gunboats had been recently perfected; now they could penetrate inland by navigating upriver. The industrial economies were spewing cheap manufactured goods and ‘conquering’ new markets, destroying local productions, demanding new raw materials, and creating further markets for colonial commodities that previously could not be traded. Now, except for Africa and parts of the Pacific, even though these regions would be engulfed in colonial systems of relations in due course, every place in the world had become involved directly or indirectly in the colonial relation. Colonialism was now truly a global phenomenon. The colonial crisis of 1866–1867 at Magdala was an example of the colonialist powers’ newly achieved ability to strike inland. The Emperor of Abyssinia had taken a few European hostages in order to force the resolution of a diplomatic crisis. There were a few Britons, and the British government responded by dispatching a massive military expedition. Magdala (now Amba Mariam) was more than 600 kilometres inland –the expedition was a complex logistical undertaking, but it was successfully executed, and the defenders were decisively defeated. It was a demonstration that the colonial armies could now reach previously unreachable locations. If appropriate preparations were implemented, the firepower that traditionally travelled on gunboats could now be transported inland and deployed almost anywhere. Later, the machine gun made such a deployment even easier and deadlier. It could fire 500 rounds per minute; the colonial wave could now veritably crash through areas that had been previously sheltered. At the battle of
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 99 Omdurman in Sudan in 1898, the machine gun proved again its efficacy (this will not be the end of the story, and twentieth century anticolonial guerrillas would be able to circumvent the colonisers’ concentrated firepower). The fourth global colonial wave penetrated deeper than the preceding ones, and completely transformed the economies and countries it affected because now they needed cash to meet their obligations, and because they needed to attract capital and investment. A cash economy meant that colonialism now was transforming colonial societies as well as dominating them. Previously, trading posts, ‘factories’, and a few settlements were all that colonialism could put forward in many areas. There was exploitation, and there were violence and domination, of course, and it was insidious, but the modes of extraction were place-specific and largely traditional. Now colonialism was exercising new forms of territorial control, and new forms of racial control; it was even overhauling existing indigenous property arrangements. Land surveys and land registers were conducted and established; now the colonial state was able to tax much more efficiently than ever before.18 This state was also busy creating a dependable labour supply –indentured or forced in accordance with other ‘agreements’, if no longer enslaved, but there also was in many locales a new colonised waged labour force. Colonialism was forcing communities to adopt money economies, and to curtail local productions (this latter effect was especially disabling because it permanently dedeveloped entire regions and economies). But there was more: a comprehensive transformation needed to rely on cooperative local elites (i.e., a comprador bourgeoisie), and these new groups and social developments also represented a major shift. In a sense it was a culmination of processes already under way; colonialism had always crafted new communities everywhere; acculturation, borrowings, intercultural adaptation, creolisation and sexual liaisons over many centuries had created the human material that would cooperate and/or resist dynamically the new colonial regimes (sexual licence in colonial settings would become more repressed during the twentieth century, when racism hardened and avenues for the assimilation of colonised ‘subjects’ were closed off, but this was a later occurrence, previously unequal intimacies had been the colonial norm). Colonialism now transformed most aspects of the colonised society; it affected labour, land and resources, it imposed new legal and political structures, even if these were far from uniform, new administrative technologies, the adoption in some areas of the coloniser’s language, especially in law and business, and it transformed economies and demography.19 Fourth wave colonialism during the nineteenth century transformed the economy of the colonies because tax was collected much more efficiently than ever before, as noted, and because the colonies were more closely integrated in international markets. Unlike the imperial tax collectors, who could traditionally receive all sorts of tribute, the colonial administrators often demanded that all taxes be payable in cash. But colonisers now were able to collect and reinvest profits much more efficiently too. And to move them across space much more
100 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave efficiently than before. It has been calculated that about 45 trillion of today’s US dollars were siphoned out of India during the age of colonialism –17 times more than today’s UK annual gross domestic product.20 Even if peasants in remote locations had never met a European coloniser, they certainly felt the impact of colonialism. Either they had to sell their labour and obtain cash, or they had to grow crops that would sell for cash. Colonial taxation encouraged the cultivation of cash-crops and redistributed land ownership, in turn profoundly reshaping the colonised country’s social composition. The independent colonised peasantries shifted their production away from subsistence agriculture and grew colonial commodities (i.e., cotton in Mozambique, cocoa in Madagascar, groundnuts in Senegal, etc.), thus even these colonies became monocultural regions and became exposed to commercial downturns, or wars, or other disruptions. Often the colonial authorities would purchase the commodities and trade them in international markets and profit but pay them at fixed levels and profit. The ‘cultivation system’ in Java, which was implemented in the early decades of the nineteenth century demonstrates the colonisers’ newly acquired ability to transform society by way of fiscal policy. Cash crops were bought at predetermined prices, and their cultivation was imposed over subsistence crops. Enormous profits for some; enormous hardship for others. The British evangelicals promoted in the early nineteenth century the consolidation of an English-educated Indian elite. These English-speaking ‘natives’ would make, many envisaged, the administration of India possible and cheap. Besides, this elite would support the colonising endeavour by collaborating with the colonial authorities. But in India the new missionary efforts were running against established colonial interests and approaches. The expectation of the ‘old hands’ was that upsetting traditional cultures would destabilise relations and compromise existing arrangements. Nonetheless, the traditional exclusion of missionaries from India was discontinued (different modes of colonial domination were at times as exclusive against each other as the different colonial powers could be). The horizon for this new elite was assimilation through education and ‘civilisation’. After colonial war, however, after 1857, the British colonial authorities developed a much different system of subordinate integration of native authorities within the structures of colonial rule: indirect rule.21 The first two global colonial waves had not been as destructive (or as transformative) of local cultures and lifeworlds as the later ones would be: previously, the colonised had been taxed, robbed, ripped off, their economies dedeveloped, their bodies appropriated and stolen, and deported or ‘removed’ from their country, but the colonisers had been mainly indifferent to their cultures (at times, they had even ‘gone native’, which is a measure of appreciation). Free trade colonialism, the fourth global colonial wave, needed that traditional societies be recast: it needed to constitute the captive markets that could absorb the metropole’s increased industrialised production. Thus, missionary colonialism in the Victorian era was as much
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 101 a result of genuine concern for the slaves and the Indigenous peoples of the world as a consequence of a new way of doing colonialism. The missionaries protected some colonised populations from the assaults of other colonisers – one tidal colonial formation did shelter them from the onslaught of other ones, and many colonised communities actively embraced, even if selectively, the opportunities for stability and integration offered by the missions.22 Besides, the slave trade was to be replaced by other trades; ‘commerce’ would penetrate Africa. Palm oil from western Africa and elsewhere, for example, was now needed to lubricate the new industrial machines, while sugar was now widely available, and its price was depressed.23 In due course cash cropping became a substitute for the slave trade as the plantation as a social formation travelled back towards Africa and Asia and went global. The missionary societies brought spiritual and material assistance but expected and demanded that the lifestyle and cultural traits of the colonised societies be transformed. The general catchphrase at the time, when referring to an ostensible process of cumulative transformation was ‘civilisation’. Now the ‘natives’ of the world would be taxed, robbed, ripped off, their economies dedeveloped, their bodies appropriated and stolen, and deported or ‘removed’ from their country, and they would be civilised. *** Capital was circulating globally like never before, and the City of London became the centre of a worldwide network of unequal exchange, a powerful engine recycling, directing and pumping a myriad of targeted and interconnected high-pressure local tidal flows. The Greek War Bonds of the 1820s epitomised a new development: empire and capital had become more interdependent than ever before.24 They would remain interwoven. The Greek independentists fighting against Ottoman rule and their supporters had been selling ‘freedom’ bonds in London but were now losing the war of independence they had prematurely launched. The war had been a remarkably murderous affair. The British and the international investors therefore lobbied the British government to bail them out, and the British government intervened to support Greek independence. The naval Battle of Navarino against the Ottoman Turks (1827) confirmed an unmatched European superiority, but the Greek independence that followed was literally born in debt, and the history of Greek debt would be a protracted one. Mexico’s Cinco the Mayo celebrations are also about national independence from foreign debt and domination: in 1861 the government had declared a moratorium on foreign debt repayments –it had defaulted –prompting Britain, Spain and France to send a naval force to Mexican waters and demand that payments to investors located in the metropole be honoured (this type of intra-imperial cooperation would have been unthinkable in the era of mercantilism, but in the era of free trade imperialism nonexclusive unequal relations were not uncommon). France even sent an army to establish a French-dominated ‘empire’ in Mexico, but on the fifth of May the new
102 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave conquistadores were defeated in battle. Mexico’s independence was secure, but the country remained chronically indebted. The Opium Wars followed the Chinese authorities’ early successes in repressing the British controlled opium trade into the country –the trade was older, but it had witnessed a dramatic surge in the 1820s. The imperial authorities were concerned about widespread addiction and the social problems associated with it, but also about the trade’s consequences in terms of depleting the country’s silver reserves (even illegal imports must be paid for). There were seizures of illegal cargo in Chinese ports and then war. The First Opium War was concluded by the Treaty of Nanjing of 1839, whereby China was forced to pay a stiff indemnity, cede the area where the colony of Hong Kong would therefore grow, and allow the European controlled trades to flow from five ‘treaty ports’ rather than only one, which meant that the imperial authorities were forced to forgo revenue, as tax could not be efficiently collected. A supplementary treaty allowed British merchants ‘extraterritorial’ rights –they could reside in China but could only be tried in British courts. Other Western powers then demanded and obtained similar rights for their citizens. The Second Opium War in the 1850s saw the French and the British organising a joint military expedition to force further concessions. The treaties that were secured following a first round of hostilities were notable because they demanded that merchants be allowed to travel inland, and this now included Christian missionaries. The opium trade was now fully legal. As the terms of these provisions were not honoured, further conflict ensued. A Franco-British expedition thus entered Beijing, the imperial capital. The Opium Wars epitomised free trade imperialism, in this instance, the free trade of narcotics. The ‘unequal’ treaties that followed these conflicts severely undermined China’s control of customs and foreign exchanges and ultimately its sovereignty. Moreover, China also witnessed a veritable epidemic and it is estimated that at one point there were 40 million opioids addicts –ten per cent of the population! The unequal treaties were specific about where and who could import in and export out of the Chinese market, but they were about colonial control. Did the Chinese state have a right to erect a levee to protect its territory, economy, and population from the surging tidal wave? The answer was a resounding ‘no’. The Opium Wars were waged by the British, but it was an inter-imperial consortium that enforced the notion that no protection would be tolerated. The Western powers eventually carved the country into distinct and separate spheres of influence and even built a metropolis from where traders and the European residents could supervise the new colonial regime. Shanghai grew around a city Westerners had designed and where Westerners were enjoying extraterritorial privileges.25 Internationally defined limitations on the local government’s ability to impose duties, the recognition of semiautonomous enclaves, where local laws overrode national laws, sanctioned the new constraints to the Chinese Emperor’s rule.
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 103 The Treaty of Nanjing opened China to foreign trade –an unequal treaty that deliberately and explicitly compromised the authority of China’s rulers. There were to be no more trade regulations, more ports were to be opened for trade, import tariffs were set at five per cent (i.e., very low), and what would become Hong Kong was to be ceded. Ten new ports were opened, further concessions extracted. In 1863 the Imperial Maritime Customs was also created: nominally a branch of the Chinese government, it was actually headed by Britons. It thereafter exacted customs duties, improved infrastructure, promoted trade, and provided logistical support to foreign trading houses operating in China; it became a powerful and largely unaccountable state within the state. Western armies later even repressed popular insurgencies on behalf of the Chinese emperor (and on behalf, of course, of metropolitan investors). The Taiping and the Boxer ‘rebellions’, in 1850–1864 and 1899–1901 respectively, were bloody affairs. These were nationalist and xenophobic movements as well as much more: they were nationalist rebellions against ‘foreign’ rulers as well as against the foreigners that supported them. These international interventions confirmed China’s position as a ‘semicolony’ of a multitude of Western powers. Thus, the imperial ‘interlude’ of the nineteenth century was not an interlude but an era when informal unequal relations generally prevailed. Indeed, it is the successive periods of the ‘new’ and ‘high’ imperialisms (1882–1919 and then between the 1920s and the 1960s) that may be seen as an ‘interlude’ between two eras of informal, free trade colonialism. The decades between 1815 and 1875 were not the calm between the imperial storms: the swell of free trade imperialism was mounting and unrelenting. The swing was from direct empire as an economic tool (i.e., mercantilism) to free trade as a tool of (informal) empire. The creole republics of Latin America, and the Chinese and Ottoman Empires in due course became informal colonies. Treaties, legal concessions, especially extraterritorial rights that placed Europeans above local law, ‘capitulations’ (trade and other legally sanctioned concessions), and the presence and authority of consular residents were the imperial markers of the age. In the Ottoman Empire there also was the question of ‘protected’ communities residing within the Empire –communities formally subject to the rule of an imperial authority that nonetheless benefited from the explicit protection of an external power. The threat of violence was never far when the imperialist powers and the local authorities negotiated access to populations, markets, commodities, and raw materials. Under informal imperial arrangements the colonial powers did not need to bother with formal control as they previously had and as they subsequently would. Sometimes the independence of a country was guaranteed by two opposing powers agreeing to share the informal spoils, to delimit separate ‘spheres of influence’, and to sustain the nominal autonomy of an otherwise subjected polity. Persia was in 1907 ‘partitioned’ by Britain and Russia; Thailand was never subjected to formal domination because France
104 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave and Britain had agreed to refrain from preclusive action there. And, of course, there was China, where different Western powers eventually carved separate spheres of influence where they could exercise exclusive forms of control. The ‘client states’ (i.e., the Ottoman empire, which was ‘protected’ by France and Britain against Russian expansion), the many ‘protectorates’ propping up in many distant shores, and the many forms of co-opted indirect rule, all maintained the fantasy of native sovereign governing capabilities in an otherwise profoundly colonial system of relationships. Then again in many instances the colonial powers did seek to formalise their dominion. France was more and more aggressive in staking colonial claims as the century progressed. Algiers was occupied in 1830, and the country was to be conquered in the 1840s and 1850s; Dakar was an historical possession on the western coast of Africa, but in the nineteenth century an expanding hinterland was attached to the colony. ‘Indochina’ was also eventually subjected to French colonial expansion. Initially declared a possession in 1859, it took French forces a few decades to conquer the whole region. The French preferred formal dominion and the ability to exclude competitors from their possessions because the British were otherwise the default dominant power. But the British were also acquiring colonial possessions at a fierce rate. In the east, they acquired the Cape, Colombo, and Malacca, a crucial passageway towards China; in the Mediterranean they retained Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands, while eventually acquiring Cyprus and Suez (this latter acquisition, as we shall see, was to be a turning point; see Chapter 6). In the East Indies, the Dutch also expanded aggressively their influence and direct control after 1830. Besides, the American Republic and the Russian Empire also expanded enormously during the nineteenth century; travelling French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville had noted their similarities. The latter one expanded inland towards the Caucasus, the Far East and Central Asia; the former, together with its settler-colonial sister polity to the north, expanded towards the Pacific Ocean and towards ‘Manifest Destiny’ (many islands in the Pacific and a few in the Caribbean would be added in due course). Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railroad, which was completed at the beginning of the twentieth century, resembled the transcontinental railroad that had been completed in the US in 1869. Inland expansion does not look ‘colonial’ if one only adopts a ‘blue water’ perspective, but it certainly feels colonial if you are, say, Native American … India, conquered bit by bit in the previous century, was only fully subjected to British control during the nineteenth century. The Marathas were defeated in 1803, but the East India Company subsequently lost its monopoly, a move that signalled the end of mercantilist hegemony. Colonial arrangements in the subcontinent would be formalised in a complex pattern of local deals characterised by unvarying overarching British supremacy. India was for a few crucial decades the subject of ‘civilising’ colonialism –as we have seen, the idea was to produce ‘brown Englishmen’, a culturally assimilated elite
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 105 able and willing to collaborate in the governance of the colonial system – but another comprehensive revision of colonial priorities ensued after 1857, after anticolonial war and ruthless, savage repression.26 In 1857 colonial rule had been profoundly shaken. ‘Civilising’ colonialism was abandoned, and new technologies of control were developed; the collaborators were now to be ‘neo-traditional’ elites. They were to be supported and, when needed, ‘invented’.27 After 1857, the colonised elites were no longer targeted for assimilation; now the colonised were to remain permanently different. Reinforcing the colonial ‘rule of difference’ thus became normative in the colonial world. Order was restored, violence was meted out, but after 1857, decolonisation, even if it did not have such a name yet, had already been firmly placed on the agenda. Free trade and informal colonialism eventually ended. The ‘Mutiny’ in 1857 forced the British state to assume direct control of the colonial state.28 Now it was formally in control –an empire. But free trade colonialism also ended because other imperial pretenders entered the imperialist competition. As the British hegemony was challenged, exclusive colonialism returned to be the norm after a long phase of inclusive colonialism. A neomercantilist global colonial wave followed. It would be the fifth global colonial wave, as we will see in the next chapter. Germany, the US, Belgium, even Italy and Japan, all eventually became colonial powers beginning with the 1880s. Portugal and Spain, ancient colonial powers, also resurrected their colonial ambitions, and so did the Netherlands. The efforts were directed now primarily towards establishing exclusive colonies, and the race became so intense that preclusive occupations became the norm. Preclusive occupations happen when a colony is acquired not because it is a promising prospect, but primarily to pre-empt its occupation by a competitor. The ‘new imperialism’ was the new way of doing colonial business; it replaced free trade colonialism, just like free trade had once replaced mercantilism. Then again, many islands had been occupied in the past primarily to disrupt the colonial activities of a competitor and only later developed as commodity producing colonies. The ‘new’ imperialism was not that new after all.
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Chapter 5 –Further Resources 1) ‘The Devilfish in Egyptian Waters’: An American cartoon from 1882
Figure 5.1 ‘The Devilfish in Egyptian Waters’: An American cartoon from 1882 © The Granger Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: this is a map, obviously, but also an allegorical figure representing Britain at its centre, which is also true of most maps, considering where the ‘0’ meridian is located. ‘England’ is dominating the sea and the lands that it touches (a similar frequently used pun at the time was that the ‘sun never sets on the British Empire’ because ‘even God couldn’t trust the Englishman in the dark’).29 The author of this cartoon was espousing an anti-imperialist vision of the world. But would this American author consider US expansion
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 107 and ‘Manifest Destiny’ as a form of imperialism? He (it was most likely a ‘he’) named one of the provinces being appropriated ‘Boersland’. Were not the Boers also imperialists? Note also that this cartoon does not represent a static world. Much of the action is happening in Egypt and its adjacent canal zone. There was a widespread perception that this latest ‘grab’ would usher in a momentous transformation in global politics –the new ‘imperialism’ did not have a name yet, but many saw it coming. The author espoused free trade –how can you trade ‘freely’ in these claustrophobic and choppy waters, and in the presence of a grasping and domineering monster? 2) British ships attacking a Chinese battery on the Pearl River during the first Opium War, 1841
Figure 5.2 British ships attacking a Chinese battery on the Pearl River during the first Opium War, 1841 © Lakeview Images/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: A most uneven struggle! Even visually, the sea dominates over the land. 3) Movie for discussion: Gandhi (1982) Note: The movie is about Gandhi’s anticolonial struggles.
108 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave Question: Was Gandhi against British ideas and culture? 4) Chapter 5 –Main Points 1) Fourth wave colonialism transforms colonised societies. Colonialism is no longer satisfied to simply dominate or destroy the societies it subsumes. 2) Capital circulated in and out of the colonial peripheries during the fourth global colonial wave in ways that are tremendously disruptive and transformative. 3) Colonialism during the fourth global colonial wave did not always seek or need formal dominion. New colonial formations emerge: the informal colony (i.e., the Latin American countries under British informal control), the ‘client state’ (i.e., the Ottoman Empire in the later decades of the nineteenth century), and the semicolony (i.e., China under the ‘unequal treaties’ regime). Even more colonial formations come into existence: the ‘protectorate’ and the ‘dependency’, for example, an indication that there was no specific template for colonial rule and that local arrangements shaped different forms of colonial domination. 4) Free trade colonialism must rely on local collaborators: the comprador bourgeoisie, the assimilated elites, and later, the ‘traditional’ elites involved in systems of indirect rule. The settlers also often become local collaborators of colonial regimes. The third and fourth global colonial wave were highly compatible. 5) And yet, while fourth and third wave colonialism are often simultaneous, they invest different regions of the globe in different ways (while always interacting and at times overlapping). They are both more destructive of traditional societies than their predecessors (which were incredibly destructive already). 6) Population flows now criss- cross the globe more than ever before: settlers, traders and merchants of many nationalities, diasporas, indentured workers, migrants, missionaries, and explorers. 7) The fourth global colonial wave is eventually superseded because there is growing resistance from the colonised (i.e., the first war of Indian national independence in 1857), and because the rate of profits that can be secured investing in colonial enterprises diminishes over time. Monopolies and exclusive modes of colonial domination are the only solution: many new competitors beside Britain, France and Holland enter or re-enter a new colonial race, and so do Spain and Portugal. Belgium, and newly unified Italy and Germany also begin collecting overseas possessions. Crisis is responded to with renewed expansionism.
Map 5.1 The Fourth Global Colonial Wave, circa 1800–1882
Simultaneous third wave
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 109
5) The Fourth Global Colonial Wave, circa 1800–1882
THE FOURTH GLOBAL COLONIAL WAVE
110 The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave
Notes 1 Joshua Simon, The Ideology of the Creole Revolutions: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017. 2 Alan Lester, ‘British Settler Discourse and the Circuits of Empire’, History Workshop Journal, 54, 2002, pp. 24–48. See also Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830– 1867, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2002. 3 Bernard Semmel, The Rise of Free Trade Imperialism: Classical Political Economy, the Empire of Free Trade, and Imperialism, 1750–1850, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004. 4 Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History, New York, Vintage, 2014. 5 Jane Lydon, ‘A Secret Longing for a Trade in Human Flesh: The Decline of British Slavery and the Making of the Settler Colonies’, History Workshop Journal, 90, 2020, pp. 189–210. Citing promoter of settler colonies Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Lydon concludes that ‘Settler colonialism itself can in this sense be seen as a response to the loss of the “human trade in flesh” ’ (p. 3). 6 Radhika Mongia, Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2018; Sana Aiyar, Indians in Kenya: The Politics of Diaspora, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2015. 7 Beckert, Empire of Cotton. 8 See James, The Black Jacobins; Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2004. 9 Sudhir Hazareesingh, Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture, London, Penguin, 2020. 10 Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863– 1877, New York, Harper & Row, 1988. 11 See Jaime E. Rodriguez, The Independence of Spanish America, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998. 12 John Gallagher, Ronald Robinson, ‘The Imperialism of Free Trade’, Economic History Review, 6, 1, 1953, pp. 1–15. 13 Lisa Ford, The King’s Peace: Law and Order in the British Empire, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2021. 14 Belich, Replenishing the Earth. 15 Daniel R. Headrick, ‘The Tools of Imperialism: Technology and the Expansion of European Colonial Empires in the Nineteenth Century’, The Journal of Modern History, 51, 2, 1979, pp. 231–263. 16 Jürgen Osterhammel The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2014. 17 Christopher Baily, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780– 1830, London, Longman, 1989. 18 Brenna Bhandar, Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership, Durham, Duke University Press, 2018. 19 On the ‘plural’ legal orders of colonialism, see Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
The Imperialism of Free Trade – The Fourth Wave 111 20 See Shubra Chakrabarti, Utsa Patniak (eds), Agrarian and Other Histories: Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri, New York, Columbia University Press, 2018. 21 See Mahmood Mamdani, Define and Rule: Native as a Political Identity, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2012. 22 David Lambert, Alan Lester, ‘Geographies of Colonial Philanthropy’, Progress in Human Geography, 28, 3, 2004, pp. 320–341. 23 Max Haiven, Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire, London, Pluto Press, 2022. As Haiven emphasises, palm oil colonialism is ongoing. 24 Eric D. Weitz, A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2019. 25 Robert Bickers, ‘Shanghailanders: The Formation and Identity of the British Settler Community in Shanghai, 1843– 1937’, Past and Present, 159, 1998, pp 161–211. 26 Karuna Mantena, Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010. 27 Mamdani, Citizen and Subject. 28 Ranajit Guha, Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1997. 29 Shashi Tharoor, An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, New Delhi, Aleph, 2016, p. 139.
6 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave
After approximately a century of British uncontested domination in colonial affairs, colonial competition began again. A neomercantilist age followed the era of free trade, just like the era of tree trade had followed a mercantilist era. Imperialism was again primarily about establishing exclusive colonial relations between colonies and metropole. The rush to exclude imperial competitors thus resulted in the fifth global colonial wave. This colonial wave also transformed and violently reshaped the colonised societies it invested in more profound ways than its predecessors had. Like its predecessors, this global colonial wave also engulfed new regions, areas that had remained unreachable and were neglected by previous expansionary processes. Africa, the whole continent beyond a string of scattered settlements on its coasts and Algeria and southern Africa, which had already been occupied, areas in the Far East, the Middle East, and the islands of the Pacific –Micronesia and Melanesia –were all occupied during this colonial wave. Each colonising power increased its possessions and developed a specific style of colonial administration. Previously, papal bulls, declarations about ‘discovery’, treaties with local authorities, and ostensible ‘occupation’ had been competing ways to claim colonial possession. During the fifth global colonial wave, the colonial or imperial claimants developed a new doctrine of colonial expansion and agreed on it: now it was the demonstrable existence and operation of the ‘colonial state’ that was to be the marker of possession, a claim that would entitle its holder to lawfully exclude its competitors. The colonial state had to be in place, and it had to be demonstrably shaping the economy and the social life of the colony. Colonialism now became an exercise in international peer review. The colonial state was a new and powerful transformer of the lives of the colonised: it relocated, adjudicated, allocated, repressed, educated, and most importantly, it exacted tax and other tributes.1 Of course, the colonial state was most unlike the metropolitan state: it was despotic by definition, and its various functions were collapsed in the same authority. It was a ‘proconsular’ state, and all the branches of the state, the military and police, the health services, all infrastructure –especially ports and railways –the education system, and the judiciary were controlled by DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-7
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 113 an unaccountable governor and a limited circle of advisors residing in the colonial capital (the indirect native rulers controlled populations in remote districts but were dependant and subordinated). The colonial state was typically run on the cheap, which undermined its transformative power but made repression its default mode of operation. The lives of the colonised populations were now being transformed like they had never been before. The colonial state needed to pacify, and to build some infrastructure: roads, police stations, telegraph lines, and sometime railways. It needed to eventually negotiate specific borders with its imperial competitors. All this made it a costly exercise, which, when a determination to make the colonies pay for themselves is added to the picture, made it a rapacious state. It was an unprecedented driver of social and economic transformation; the previous global colonial waves had not reached this far and this deep in the societies they had subjugated (except, as we have seen, for the plantation and settler colonialisms, which had established entirely new societies and replaced the Indigenous ones). There was another novelty: if the imperialism of free trade had marked the apex of colonial power, the successive phase witnessed stubbornly increasing anticolonial challenges. Major previous challenges to colonial regimes had been, as we have seen, the Haitian revolution, and the Indian ‘mutiny’, which had actually been a nearly successful war of national independence. Thus, one could argue that a tidal global surge of anticolonial nationalism was already mounting, even if the fifth global colonial wave was still cresting above. Accelerated expansion, normally a sign of a functioning sociopolitical system, was actually a response to its global crisis –colonial dominion was now challenged more than it had ever been. This challenge was often hidden under a patina of colonialist complacency, but some insightful observers, W. E. B. Du Bois for example, could already see the shape of a developing global struggle between colonised populations and their colonisers. The ‘problem of the twentieth century’, he influentially remarked, ‘is the problem of the color line’.2 Thus, even if more imperial actors were now establishing footholds in lands across the seas and beginning their colonial enterprises (and doing so with renewed urgency –it was a ‘race’), the changing imperial map was ultimately deceptive: the high tide of colonialism had passed its peak. Colonialism was still expanding, but there already were significant rip currents. Traders, explorers, and missionaries prepared the terrain in Africa. The slave trade had already sapped the continent’s strength for centuries, and new trades had gradually replaced it, or better, had contributed to redirecting it towards the east. The imperial ‘scramble’ for Africa often was about turning trading concerns into monopolies by way of establishing ‘protectorates’. The work of the traders, the explorers, and the missionaries was also useful for sustaining territorial claims in the face of other European claimants and for promoting colonial ambitions; their presence, or confirmed news of their passage in particular regions, was used as propaganda and to
114 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave prime public opinion in the metropole in favour of colonial adventurism. This was also a novelty: previously, public opinion had not shaped colonial politics, which had remained the domain of established lobbies and vested interests, but beginning with the 1880s, it did. ‘Social imperialism’ was also a new phenomenon: it aimed to redirect class animosity and other tensions towards the outside.3 Growing class tensions in the metropoles at the end of the nineteenth century thus further contributed to accelerate the new colonial race: opportunities abroad had been needed for capital and for manufactured goods, now more and more downwardly mobile individuals who could not maintain their social status at home were seeking openings for personal improvement in the colonies. Under the new ‘Weltpolitik’ (a shift that had followed the country’s unification in 1871), Germany amassed a veritable colonial empire and relatively fast. The new policy setting had been proclaimed in 1884 – when the first ultramarine colony had been occupied –but it became more explicit in 1897. Germany expanded in the Pacific (Samoa, Nauru, New Guinea, Micronesia), in Asia (Tsingtao and its surrounding sphere of influence), and in Africa (Togo, Cameroon, Tanganyika –today’s Tanzania after it joined with Zanzibar at independence –and German Southwest Africa –today’s Namibia). Germany’s colonial empire eventually became a direct challenge to British colonial hegemony.4 The British understood Germany’s ability to rapidly collect several colonies in regions of traditional British influence as a game changer, and they did not want the game to change. They then began building ‘Dreadnought’ gunboats, new gunships that rendered previous vessels essentially obsolete. A Dreadnought ship had 12-inch guns and revolutionary turbines, it could move faster and could concentrate way more firepower than its predecessors. It could also dispose of the gunboats that may try to prevent it from projecting its firepower, which meant that wherever it may be ordered to, it would make a significant difference. Almost immediately, Germany was building these gunboats too. As a result, in 1904 the ‘Entente Cordiale’ saw the rapprochement between long lasting competitors in colonial scenarios: France and Britain.5 This was a major realignment –after squabbling for almost three centuries, France and Britain would henceforth collaborate. In previous decades, Britain had typically favoured Germany’s colonial claims to oppose French ambitions, but during the colonial crisis in Morocco it changed sides. It consistently favoured France thereafter. The colonies Germany was setting up were brand new and invariably near British possessions, whether in Africa, China, and the Pacific. They were or seemed profitable because they worked in a new way: the state was heavily involved in these colonies, more than the state had been involved in colonial enterprises elsewhere and was involved in them from the beginning –these colonies epitomised the spirit of the new global colonial wave. Other colonial powers had been reluctant, the state had not been directly involved in colonial activities other than in defending
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 115 and enabling –but the new colonisers did. Capital would then follow the state into the colonies rather than the other way around. Capital demanded a labour force in the colony, a colonised labour force, labour that could not choose the terms of its employment, and the colonial authorities endeavoured to procure it by actively dispossessing the Indigenous peoples. The new colonialism placed the Indigenous societies under enormous pressure. In the very early decades of the twentieth century the German army would experiment with genocide in Namibia after a native insurrection, and with murderous repression in Tanganyika. The problem of emigration was a serious concern for the Italian nationalists, they had for decades promoted the prospect of colonial expansion. The nationalists argued that Italy needed a ‘Promised Land’ to redirect emigration away from the Americas, where Italian emigrants were forever lost to the nation. Thus, Italy developed a very peculiar colonial tradition: unlike the other colonial powers, it did not prioritise the exploitation of the colonised –the fascists would call this empire the ‘empire of labour’, an empire where the colonisers were supposed to perform menial labour (the colonised were expected to work too, of course), but such an empire had already existed.6 Italy had failed to acquire Tunisia, to its dismay, but eventually occupied Eritrea and Somalia, small colonial change, but to the nationalists it meant a lot. Germany had been the ‘honest broker’ with regards to Tunisia and had favoured France (German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck believed that Germany could benefit in European affairs from appeasing France in colonial scenarios after the war of 1870–1871). The British later felt that an Italian presence in Eastern Africa would balance France’s expansion and Germany’s ambitions there. An Italian army, however, lost at Adwa badly in 1896, and could not proceed to occupy Abyssinia. The outcome of that battle was a massive shock to all those who were following colonial developments –a native force had vanquished an entire colonial army! Italy would acquire Libya in 1911, but only in the 1920s would it establish effective control there. In 1935, it would invade Abyssinia again. It would occupy the country, but only until 1940, and its rule there was always shaky. The fascist colonial authorities there would unleash an orgy of violent repression following the attempted assassination of the appointed governor, a veritable colonial pogrom. Belgium got the Congo. At first, it was its king, Leopold, who was ‘awarded’ the whole country through the transnational corporate entity he controlled. He had begun his private imperialism in 1876, when he established a public corporation, proclaimed himself CEO, and promised international access (he thus imagined an inclusive type of colonialism, and his employees came indeed from many European countries). But Leopold abused his position greatly, even if he was overseeing what would today be called a ‘humanitarian’ INGO claiming to be active in extinguishing slavery, as well as a more traditional corporate concern. The Congo came to epitomise the ‘horror’ of colonialism, its ‘heart of darkness’. Rubber was the
116 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave colonial commodity of the era, demand for it was intense: electrification needed rubber products, and the automobiles that were to be manufactured in the following decades required it too. The ‘second’ industrial revolution had created an insatiable demand for rubber, and rubber had prompted its own global colonial wave, in what would become Malaysia, in Liberia, in Indochina, in the Dutch East Indies, and earlier in the Amazon region. Rubber could be obtained from the wild rubber vine and from the rubber tree. The distinction between these two modes of procuring rubber would result on the ground in colonial circumstances resembling respectively the first and the second global colonial wave: the extractive mode of the Spanish conquistadors and the plantation mode developed by their competitors, as if colonialism was reverting to type at the end of the nineteenth century. Once international demand for rubber skyrocketed, trees were planted in great numbers in British, French, and Dutch colonies, but before these plantations could become productive, the wild rubber vine was the only source. The Congo witnessed an especially rapacious colonial regime also because Leopold and his advisers knew that the rubber plantations of his competitors in southeast Asia and elsewhere in the tropical world would become productive in only a few years. A developing (and callous) colonial formation was accelerating the callousness of another. The ‘white’ cities of the Belle Époque were built on rubber, an insulant and a crucial component of electrification, and on the misery of the ‘dark’ continent and many other regions of the world (i.e., the Amazon). The myth of speed and the rhetoric of Futurist modernity were based on the most backward colonial atrocities: forced labour, a new form of slavery, hostage taking, reprisals, indiscriminate collective violence, forced displacements, massive environmental degradation, and violent gangsters unleashed on a massive country. About 10 million were killed under Leopold’s watch, and yet statues representing him in some martial poses were still standing in numerous Belgian cities in 2020 ... 7 Not only new colonising powers entered the scene, old ones also revived their colonial ambitions. Portugal expanded its possessions in Africa, and so did Spain. In the new imperialist climate, the oldest colonial powers reorganised their activities and issued new claims. Unlike Germany, for example, but in many ways like Italy, they did so because their economies were backwards, and running colonial operations overseas was relatively easier than efficiently modernising their society –this colonialism was in a sense born out of weakness. Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Northern Morocco, and the Western Sahara were all occupied or reoccupied. Another colonialism sustained by crisis was that of France. Defeated in Europe, France acquired most of north and western Africa and occupied Madagascar. It was yet another example of colonial expansion following relative weakness. France had lost two ‘daughters’ in 1871, a French diplomat is reported saying with reference to Alsace and Lorraine and commenting on the suggestion that it should settle for a few
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 117 colonial ‘maids’ in exchange. France planned to recapture the daughters, but it exploited the maids nonetheless. *** A succession of debt crises kickstarted the neomercantilist imperial ‘scramble’. Both the governments of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt were bankrupt, and the British imperialists had bought the Egyptian shares of the Suez Canal Company, thus pre-empting others from doing the same. The canal had been inaugurated in 1869, reconfiguring patterns of global trade. Through this acquisition, the British had acquired ‘leverage’, and when an array of Egyptian forces including the military and a popular movement tried to free the country from European influence, the risk of default on Egypt’s debt became a real possibility. Militarised debt collection, extortion at gun point, is a marker of colonial relations during the nineteenth century and beyond, a feature that is typical of both the fourth and the fifth colonial waves. The French had sent a fleet against Haiti in 1825, they intended to collect what they deemed it was owed to them after slavery had been finally abolished there, and international fleets threatened Mexico in 1861 and Venezuela in 1902. The 1875 Ottoman default had unleashed a type of ‘colonisation through lending’, while sovereign debt crises had invested Latin America in the 1890s, furthering renewed colonial relations there too.8 In 1881, France and Britain joined together to manage the finances of the Ottoman Empire through the Ottoman Public Debt Commission. The Commission operated until 1914. Through this institution, foreigners took control of all revenue streams: tribute, taxes, and tariffs. Egypt went bankrupt in 1876. In 1882 Britain occupied the country to ensure that there would be no default on its debt and to pacify financial markets. But the general climate of international relations had shifted. Elsewhere, it was precisely because the local authorities were able to craft an autonomous political course, unlike the Egyptian and Ottoman ones, that the colonisers on the spot had felt compelled to seek the metropole’s intervention. The British traders in Burma, for example, sought protection against the local authorities. The latter were demanding that they pay taxes, no colonist likes to pay tax, and the country was occupied in 1885. French Catholic missionaries had set up shop in nearby Viet Nam. They then sought protection against the unitary Vietnamese state and demanded that the French state intervene. The French had failed to occupy northern Indochina twice in 1856, and 1858, but in the 1880s managed to subdue local resistance. The relative weakness of native authorities prompted imperial intervention, but so did their relative cohesion. The race was on. The financial crises came at the end of the fourth global colonial wave and unleashed the fifth. Many sovereign defaults occurred at the very end of the nineteenth century. Decades of ‘free trade’ had produced significant structural imbalances –it had not at all been an era of stability, and a few disastrous famines should not be forgotten.9 The ‘scramble’ for Africa began in Egypt. It was the British pre-emptive grab in Egypt and Suez in 1882 that
118 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave unleashed the new race for colonial possessions.10 The British had excluded the French because, with the new Suez Canal in operation, controlling the Cape Colony and Singapore, the two strategic entry points to the Indian Ocean was no longer enough. There was now another access route to the Indian Ocean, and the security of the Indian Raj, the British-controlled state that had consolidated in India after 1857, was an all-demanding priority as far as the British strategists were concerned. French capital and engineering had been instrumental in crafting the canal; the French believed that it was outrageous that they should be excluded (then again, a year earlier, the French had excluded the Italians from Tunisia, and Italy had had plans for the Ottoman-dominated country, which was closer to its shores and where Italian immigrants had already formed a ‘colony’ of residents). Developments in Egypt marked a crucial shift of the colonial pendulum, whereby inclusive exploitation fourth wave style gave way to exclusive exploitation fifth wave style. Gentlemanly imperial diplomacy endured for a while, but eventually imperialist aggression became the norm. Paradoxically, an enhanced degree of colonial coordination had immediately followed the British seizure of Egypt: the Berlin Congress of 1884– 1885 sanctioned the new colonial age and set a collaborative tone.11 At Berlin the diplomats had agreed that the principle of ‘effective occupation’ should be given a new meaning: a colonial claim could only be supported through the provision of ostensible and effective colonial governance (the Congress had aimed to protect ‘free trade’ in Africa, but it ensured that the era of free trade colonialism would come to an end). The ‘General Act’ that concluded proceedings specifically regulated the ways by which the ‘Signatory Powers’ could exclude each other from any new colony they might declare and thereafter set up –this modus operandi later became the basis of international law regarding territorial acquisition in colonial settings. The colonial state thus became a reality: it came with vaguely delineated borders, sketchy bureaucracies (a few functionaries were imported from the metropole, but most positions were filled with local personnel), capital cities, and a fiscal apparatus. Like its imperial predecessors, the colonial state exacted tribute; it did not thrive by taxing trades because it was now progressing way ahead of the traders. It was ruthless and rapacious because it sought to be immediately profitable. Later, the state would provide some infrastructure and even some education for the Indigenous populations. A new economy came into existence, cash began circulating and more and more people, especially in rapidly expanding cities, began working for wages. This was the new normal in colonial international relations in the age of the ‘new imperialism’ (this was J. A. Hobson’s influential definition of the new era): issue an international public claim to exclusive possession where no previous recognised claim by another European power existed or applied, obtain international acceptance by establishing an effective colonial presence, build a governor’s residency, install a bureaucracy, build
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 119 some infrastructure (the French colonial lobbies would refer to the process of developing and exploiting these colonies as mise en valeur), repeat somewhere else even further afield. The preclusive occupation of many colonies meant that the race eventually became a ‘scramble’ (preclusive occupations establish colonies one does not want their competitors to acquire, not colonies one needs, or colonies one may one day want). When the imperial powers scrambling for colonies ran out of possessions they could claim, they began dangerously challenging each other’s existing colonies or claims. A succession of crises emerged, some leading to actual war: in Morocco in 1905 and 1911 (the latter became known as the Agadir Crisis, and its outcome sanctioned Germany’s strategic failure in colonial matters and arguably precipitated the world war), in southern Africa (where the Boer War had been fought between 1898 and 1902), in two oceans during the Spanish American War of 1898–1899, and in Libya during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911. All these wars resulted in colonial/imperial changeovers, an old colonial phenomenon we have already encountered in previous chapters. Colonial changeovers were often imposed by the imperialists against genuine decolonial processes, as nationalists in Cuba and the Philippines learned quickly after the old colonial masters had been disinstalled.12 The largest wave of imperial changeovers of all followed the conclusion of WWI, when the imperial powers cannibalised Germany’s previous possessions and partitioned the Middle Eastern provinces of the disbanded Ottoman Empire. The ‘scramble for Africa’ represented an acceleration and a quantitative leap in the development of colonial relations globally. It was indeed a global process that went beyond Africa and involved the Pacific, the Far East, and the Middle East. There were continuities and discontinuities with previous colonial waves. The practice of pre-emptively claiming colonial domains, of claiming first and then occupying later, was an old one, after all, the Treaty of Tordesillas in the fifteenth century had also been stipulated before the Iberian expansions had even started (the Pope had identified two colonising sovereigns, Portugal’s and Spain’s, and had partitioned the whole world between them, as we have seen, setting up two distinct spheres of influence, literally two hemispheres of influence). But there also were significant discontinuities: the British global hegemony was being tested more and more. Bluffing and hoping for the best, and managing colonial outposts on the cheap could no longer work: substantial investment in colonial administrations and infrastructure building was now needed. Another discontinuity was relative speed: the Germans, for example, caught the British by surprise in Tanganyika and quickly established a colonial administration, colonial facts on the ground that could not be dismissed. It was a shock for the previous default colonial leaders, because the Indian Ocean was supposed to be a British lake, and because the British were ensconced in nearby Zanzibar. Acceleration was indeed a significant feature of the new colonial age: the default response to the crisis of legitimacy vis-à-vis restive colonised masses, and vis-à-vis the colonial competitors, was acceleration.
120 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave If British hegemony entered a crisis, the response was acceleration: claiming new protectorates, occupying new dependencies, extending new spheres of influence, ensuring a presence even in areas that were not promising, and even in areas likely to be a liability for decades to come. If the transition between mercantilist and free trade colonialism had been driven by the first industrial revolution, the second industrial revolution contributed to renewed competition to acquire colonial possessions. A new global era of protectionism and tariffs meant that exclusive access to raw materials and markets (and exclusive outlets for excess capital) were now essential. No wonder that imperialist conflicts began again, like they had occurred in the eighteenth century. The largest imperialist war of all was WWI. The colonies would contribute everything they had for the war effort, but the imperialist conflict weakened the global colonial regime. By the end of WWI, the colonial empires were in serious trouble, even if they typically looked solid (most were still expanding). The end of the German colonial empire was crucial also because it rehearsed the end of empire –it was indeed a form of decolonisation.13 Significant promises had been issued for the purpose of mobilising and motivating the colonised subjects (examples included the ‘Dyarchy’ for India, the Balfour Declaration for Zionism, and the prospect of national independence for many Arab nationalist movements, as promised by T. E. Lawrence, or ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, who had supported Arab nationalism against Ottoman domination). The colonialists were now intent on dishonouring their promises. Nonetheless, returned colonial veterans would interact with nationalist movements in most colonies, and nationalism would become a powerful anticolonial force by the 1930s. Nationalism had gone global by then; besides, the Third International in Moscow was advocating an alliance between nationalists and communists to chase the imperial ‘yoke’ as a first step towards a socialist future. Nationalism was to further the end of empire in the colonial world as much as it promoted the end of the multinational empires in the European metropole. *** The ‘new’ phase in international and colonial affairs had to be understood. Hobson had named it, and he did not approve. For him, the new imperialism was a form of degeneration, a regression that should be avoided primarily for what it would do to public life in the metropole (he did not critique imperialism or colonialism per se, and actually quite approved of imperial expansion third wave style). He was observing the Boer War and feared, with good reason, that this conflict’s consequences would undermine political freedoms in the British metropole (in this, he understood how metropole and colony are united by imperialism and emphasised colonialism as a relationship).14 Hobson and Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the international Boy Scout movement, responded differently to the South African war, a critique of the new imperialism is a much different response than establishing a youth paramilitary organisation, but both shared similar
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 121 anxieties about degeneration. Hobson described the new imperialism and reconstructed its genealogy. He followed the money: for Britain, this was one result of the saturation of the domestic market, which invited companies to invest overseas, even if international competition was also pushing profits down (since the 1880s, for example, US corporate concerns had aggressively challenged British hegemony in Latin America). The companies would then demand a monopoly for the purpose of excluding competitors. Hobson had crucially linked the new imperialism with the economic depression that had begun in 1873 and lingered for decades. Unlike Hobson, Russian Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin saw imperialism as an unavoidable ‘stage’ in capitalism’s development. He believed that it would be the last (he was definitely wrong on this point).15 For him, monopolistic capitalism inevitably resulted in imperialism because of a growing dearth of investment opportunities. He agreed and relied on Hobson: inexorably diminishing returns on investments would drive the search for monopolistic access to new markets, and on this one he was right on the money. Lenin, however, unlike Hobson, observed the growth of revolutionary possibilities: in Egypt, already it was the ‘constitutionalist’ movement that had worried the imperialists and forced their hand –revolution was already challenging imperialism. Lenin thus prophetised revolution –imperialism would bring war, and the imperialist war would destroy the imperialists. On this point he was both right and wrong: revolution would come, but it would not wipe the imperialists away. Unlike Hobson, and unlike Lenin, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter thought that imperialism was an ‘atavistic’ reflex –he focused on the imperialist men on the spot and their adventurism. These men had often forced the metropolitan authorities into intervening, despite their reluctance. Schumpeter therefore advocated a return to free trade capitalism and to older- style colonialism. If Hobson approved of third wave colonialism, Schumpeter approved fourth wave arrangements and advocated reining in the authoritarian military men and unleashing the traders, as if the two had not been cooperating or simultaneously operating throughout the whole history of colonialism.16 In a sense, however, Schumpeter was ahead of his time. He could be seen as the first of the neoliberals! Indeed, free trade and the unequal relations that sustain it, and the informal modes of control that make it thrive, would return in the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century. The pendulum would then swing again, and exclusive and inclusive modes of unequal exchange, and formal and informal models of colonial control, would continue succeeding each other globally. This imperial crisis, the crisis of the fifth global colonial wave, allows us to think about three distinct phases in global colonial dynamics in the longue durée. During a first phase, formal colonial domination follows already established interests: missionaries, traders, capital and settlers go out, they have their motives, and then the colonial establishments follow. During this phase, colonial occupation is enacted to protect profits or interests that
122 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave each colonising power’s nationals are already making or pursuing. During a second phase, colonial claims and effective sovereignty precede and facilitate the entry in each region of missionaries, traders, capital, and settlers. During this second moment, colonial occupation is designed to defend profits and interests that each power’s nationals are likely to be making and pursuing once they become established. During a third phase, the colonial occupation is implemented not for the profits that are being extracted or may be eventually extracted, but simply to prevent other powers from occupying the same location. Preclusive occupations are a defining feature of fifth wave imperialism; in this sense Lenin was correct in assuming that imperialism was the latest stage of capitalist development, even if, unlike Rosa Luxemburg, he underestimated how much still escaped capitalist relations, that is, how much still remained on the outside. All of Africa was partitioned in due course. The exceptions were Ethiopia, an ancient polity that had already successfully defended its independence from colonialist attack, and Liberia, where US freedmen had been ‘colonised’ abroad during the nineteenth century, and where their descendants ruled over Indigenous peoples while US corporations did business there. Local socio-political and geographical realities were not considered; the colonialists partitioned without knowing or accounting for the local economies, ethnicities, languages, religions, migration patterns, or even local resources and their accessibility. The lines drawn on maps were arbitrary but have generally proved resilient (some former colonies were federated, some lines were erased, some adjustments were made, some former colonies seceded, some lines were added, but very little territory changed hands since the imperialist scrambles). Many of Africa’s problems today derive from the defective geopolitics devised by ignorant men in Berlin. The states of Africa, their capitals, their institutions, their borders, their internal borders, their dysfunctional economies, and even their elites, are all born in the imperialist scramble that constituted the colonial state. The successor postcolonial states inherited them all. And they are all problematic.17 The year 1898 was a turning point. The ‘Fashoda incident’, which occurred in today’s South Sudan, foreshadowed developments to come and marked the transition between imperial and imperialist war. The British wanted the whole of the Nile Valley and aimed to consolidate their possessions from Cape Town to Cairo; the French wanted to control the whole of northern and central Africa from Dakar to Djibouti. The two powers were bound to meet in a hostile fashion. Then again controlling the White Nile had become an international affair that eventually involved the Ethiopians, the Germans, and even the Italians and the Russians, as well as the French and the British. Two military columns were proceeding in opposite directions. When the British expedition arrived at Fashoda, the small town was already occupied by a French force. Lord Kitchener’s forces were much larger, they had just defeated the Mahdi’s army, a significant anticolonial resistance movement, and the French
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 123 had to withdraw. It was the moment in which the realisation dawned, for those who wanted to see, that there was no room for further expansion in colonial scenarios without the risk of unleashing an imperialist global war. This incident confirmed that a global imperialist conflagration was coming, even if no gunshots were fired in that particular instance, and even if the two powers would align their foreign and colonial policies shortly after. The Spanish–American War also began in 1898. The US was now an imperial power in its own right –it neglected Africa (even if it was active in protecting the interests of Firestone in Liberia, which it considered a quasi- protectorate), but it was acquiring a significant collection of possessions. In the Pacific, the US had purchased Alaska in 1867, and had recently annexed Hawaii and American Samoa; now Guam and the Philippines were to be occupied. In the Caribbean, Puerto Rico became a US colony after the war and remains one, while Cuba would become a semicolony until its nationalist revolution of 1959 (the Virgin Islands were also purchased, from Denmark). These were colonial changeovers, where a new power took over from an old one, even if the latter was actively reorganising its colonial presence and had declared Cuba to be a national province and an integral part of the metropole. The ‘Roosevelt Corollary’ was thus added to the ‘Monroe Doctrine’. It stated the US right to intervene in Latin American countries to protect American strategic interests and assets there. The Boer War also began in 1898: it was a bitter war, and it lasted and costed way more than expected. In May 1900, news that the siege of Mafeking had been lifted prompted spontaneous and largely unprecedented nationalistic demonstrations in Britain. ‘Jingoism’ was now a force to be considered. The ‘jingoist’ masses were a new feature of colonial policy, a development that Hobson feared and resented.18 These were wars between colonisers, but the anticolonial resistors were now also a power to be reckoned with. the Cuban nationalists were crucial to war operations on the island, and it was the growing political organisation of the South African Blacks that eventually counselled a compromise between Boer and Briton, a mere decade after the end of hostilities (both parties could agree that their ‘real’ enemy was now a racial one). After 1898, there are only imperialist wars: crises could be defused or managed, some imperialists might withdraw in good order and save face, or they might withdraw and lose face, but crisis had now become structural. The lesson and prophecy of Hobson was that imperialism generates a colonial ‘spill- over’, and that its barbarity will eventually infiltrate the European space (this was also Lenin’s conclusion). In 1936, colonialism’s ‘boomerang effect’ (this was Hannah Arendt’s expression) would literally bring the colony into the metropole, when an ‘African’ Army would cross the Strait of Gibraltar and enter Spain to pursue a civil war that was also in a way a war of colonial occupation. In that conflict, the collective punishments normally applicable to colonised ‘others’ in the colonies would be inflicted on Europeans.
124 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave This fifth colonial wave ‘crashed’ down in Berlin in 1919. The Treaty of Versailles sanctioned a first ‘decolonisation’ process, even if this was not ‘decolonisation’ in accordance with today’s meaning of the term.19 For the German colonisers it was a shock –the realisation that they were no longer members of what had been until then an international colonial club. But in a sense 1919 was merely a rehearsal, and the crisis would actually culminate in 1945, in San Francisco, where the UN was born, and where the end of Europe’s global ascendancy was finally foreshadowed (it will take a couple more decades of bitter struggles before the colonial empires of the western European nations would be actually dismantled). The European imperialists did not want to hear about decolonisation, but they eventually had to accommodate to the ‘wind of change’. In 1919 the German delegates to the Paris Conference complained about the ways their colonial empire had been dismantled, about a lack of international recognition for the achievements of their colonial states, and about the hypocrisy and greed of the victorious powers. Then again, at the Paris peace conference a motion about racial equality was also put forward by the Japanese delegation and voted down. The Japanese had not been admitted to the club despite what they believed were their colonial achievements (see Chapter 8). But by 1919 many nationalists in the colonised world were already busy tearing the clubhouse down.
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 125
Chapter 6 –Further Resources 1) The Conference of Berlin, as illustrated in Illustrierte Zeitung, 1884
Figure 6.1 The Conference of Berlin, as illustrated in Illustrierte Zeitung, 1884 © World History Archive/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: Not one person from Africa attended the conference (women are also absent, and the moustache reigns supreme). Note how the cartographic representation of Africa substitutes for its reality. We see the rivers and the blue water. The rivers are seen as potential trade arteries, natural extensions of the blue water that had become so crucial to thinking about colonialism, but the map is neither physical nor political –it rather represents a tabula rasa, an empty space. What would be described later as the ‘heart of darkness’ is represented in this map as drenched in light, an evanescent non-location. The nothing this map reports is a crucial ideological device designed to deliberately disregard African societies, cultures, populations, and histories. The power and violence of maps in enabling colonial domination should be emphasised: they work like powerful spells, a type of ‘colonial witchcraft’. They often set up forceful self-fulfilling prophecies. The
126 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave ‘arch-wizards’ of this magic art are here depicted in congress under a blank map of the African continent. Their pens are their wands. The map is their voodoo doll; their spells make things that are not there visible: borders, spheres of influence, etc. It is a most powerful sorcery, and most of the lines these wizards evoked are still there. Note also the man sitting alone in the background: he is wearing a fez hat while everyone is happy to display their bald patches. He seems worried, forlorn. No one is talking to him; indeed everyone has turned their back on him. Everyone else is engaging in amicable conversation (presumably in French). Who is he? 2) Movie for Discussion: King Leopold’s Ghost (2006). Note: Belgium’s King Leopold saw a business opportunity and ruthlessly took advantage of his connections and position. Question: Who was prominent in denouncing abuses in the Congo and why did they speak out? Was Joseph Conrad, the author of Heart of Darkness (1899), an opponent of colonialism? 3) Chapter 6 –Main Points 1) The fifth global colonial wave occurred during the age of the ‘new imperialism’. This wave finally completed the colonial conquest of the whole planet. No region of the world, excepting the Arctic and Antarctica, was now beyond the reach of the power of a few colonising metropoles located in the northern hemisphere. 2) The colonial state is instituted during this era. This particular state formation was crucial to buttressing claims to ‘effective occupation’. This state comes with arbitrary borders, a monopoly on violence, and a determination to inflict it. And a rapacious fiscal apparatus. It is proconsular and despotic. 3) As the fifth global colonial wave was in full swing, an anticolonial tide was already mounting beneath it. It would become more and more visible as the twentieth century progressed, but its history can be traced to the later decades of the nineteenth century. 4) The British occupation of Egypt in 1882 kickstarted the ‘scramble’ for African colonies. At the Berlin Congress of 1884–1885 the ‘rules’ of the imperial game were sanctioned and agreed upon. There were new imperial players, even if the newest ones, the US and Japan, did not participate in the international conference. The new competition was at first effectively managed by diplomatic means, but relationships were bound to sour. 5) France, Germany, and Britain expanded their possessions at a fierce rate, but eventually the imperialists ran out of colonial real estate they could claim. They then began coveting each other’s possessions.
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 127 Eventually, imperial wars, wars waged against Indigenous populations, sovereignties and insurgencies, turned into imperialist wars: wars waged by imperialist powers against each other. The ‘incident’ at Fashoda, the Boer War, the Spanish–American War, the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, the Agadir Crisis, and the war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire in 1911 were all imperialist –not imperial –crises (even if the prospect of anticolonial resistance was never far behind). 6) WWI was an imperialist war, as well as much else. Colonial resources and colonial manpower were mobilised in unprecedented ways to support the war effort. At its end, the colonial possessions of the defeated powers were cannibalised by the victorious ones. Seen from a German point of view, 1919 was the moment of decolonisation. But this is true more generally: imperialist wars bring the imperialist order to an end.
Map 6.1 The Fifth Global Colonial Wave, 1882–1919
128 The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 4) The Fifth Global Colonial Wave, 1882–1919
THE FIFTH GLOBAL COLONIAL WAVE
The Imperialist Scramble – The Fifth Wave 129
Notes 1 Crawford Young, The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994. 2 See Marilyn Lake, Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the Question of Racial Equality, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2008. 3 John M. Mackenzie’s Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1984. 4 Woodruff D. Smith, ‘The Ideology of German Colonialism, 1840–1906’, Journal of Modern History, 46, 1974, pp. 641–662. 5 Winifred Baumgart, Imperialism: The Idea and Reality of British and French Colonial Expansion, 1880–1914, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1982. 6 Lorenzo Veracini, ‘Italian Colonialism through a Settler Colonial Studies Lens’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 19, 3, 2018 (available at: https:// muse.jhu.edu/article/712080). 7 Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, London, Macmillan, 1998. 8 On colonization through lending, see Murat Birdal, The Political Economy of Ottoman Public Debt: Insolvency and European Financial Control in the Late Nineteenth Century, London, I. B. Tauris, 2010. 9 Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World, London, Verso, 2002. 10 Bernard Porter, The Lion’s Share, London, Longman, 2004. 11 Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty, and the Making of International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005. 12 Paul A. Kramer, ‘Race-Making and Colonial Violence in the U.S. Empire: The Philippine– American War as Race War’, Diplomatic History, 30, 2, 2006, pp. 169–210. 13 Stuart Ward, ‘The European Provenance of Decolonization’, Past and Present, 230, 1, 2016, pp. 227–260. 14 John A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study, London, James Nisbet, 1902. 15 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Left Word, 2000 . 16 Joseph Schumpeter, Imperialism and Social Classes, Oxford, Blackwell, 1951 . 17 See Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001. Mbembe notes that in the postcolony violence is authority without constraint, which is a good approximation, as we have seen, of the despotic ways colonialism operates (moderated, however, by the need to recruit some collaboration). 18 Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004. 19 Ward, ‘The European Provenance of Decolonization’.
7 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression
WWI had been an imperialist war, a clash of empires –or, more accurately, a clash between one set of metropoles supported greatly by their colonial empires and their manpower and resources, and another set of metropoles. The latter could not rely on their overseas possessions and were subjected to a sustained blockade. The demands of war mobilisation intensified colonial exploitation everywhere, and there were several anticolonial uprisings against conscription during WWI, in New Caledonia, and in Central Asia, for example. The Ottoman Empire could be considered a German informal colony. The German Kaiser had visited Constantinople twice in previous decades, German instructors had been modernising the Ottoman army, and German capital and expertise had gone into the building of the Berlin– Baghdad railway –there had been decades of German ‘peaceful penetration’ in the areas dominated by the Ottoman Empire. Besides, while in the past the Ottoman authorities had ‘enjoyed’ Franco-British ‘protection’, the nationalistic policies of the ‘Young Turks’, now in power, had produced a dramatic reorientation. The Young Turks aimed to discontinue the ‘capitulations’ of the previous century. More generally, the German U-boats did not sever the connection between the metropoles and the colonies. This failure could be seen as a strategic turning point. The German home front would fall first. One side won comprehensively, kept the colonies, and added a few more – it was a kind of colonial storm surge. Indeed, WWI had been a catastrophic storm. The other side never regained its colonies. But WWI also resulted in profound structural changes to the international order. In international capital markets, for example, Britain was still the world’s banker, but the US was now the largest creditor. A complex network of international debts, an unequal relation, was now shaping a new reality. German reparations were an unpayable debt, but the victorious Allies, including the powers possessing the most colonies, were also heavily indebted, and this was unprecedented. And there now was an explicitly anti- imperialist power on the global scene: Bolshevik Russia. In one sense, the fifth wave did not crash. Between the two world wars life in most colonies continued as before –these appeared to be stagnating waters. When the anticolonial challenge arose –repression was ruthless. At DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-8
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 131 Amritsar, in India, in 1919, after a British woman had been assaulted by a mob and during a subsequent protest, there was a shocking colonial massacre: 379 unarmed Indian men were killed and nearly 2,000 were injured. Afterward, any Indian man entering the street where the woman had been abused was forced to crawl in front of his colonialist superiors (so much for British claims to be efficient providers of orderly governance).1 Racism typically hardened in the colonial world between the wars, and many of the traditional avenues for subordinate assimilation were discontinued. In the French Empire, the communities of assimilated Africans were a legacy of previous policies, and even for the veterans of WWI who hailed from the colonies, who had been explicitly promised citizenship in 1915 in exchange for service, assimilation proved nearly impossible. The colonial cities became more and more starkly divided as segregation was more strictly supervised. And yet, despite this immobility, two further global waves affecting the colonial world were simultaneously surging. On the one hand, there was yet another global colonial wave –the sixth – made up of a mix of distinct new flows. There were several neocolonial experiments, like pseudoindependent Egypt, or prerevolutionary Cuba, while Haiti and the Dominican Republic were under US military occupation. There were the League of Nations Mandates, a new name for what was in practice an old colonial form, the protectorate (actually, a variety of colonial forms, since there were various ‘classes’ of Mandates, depending on the supposed ability of local populations for future self-governance). And then there were the colonising efforts of the fascist powers. The Italian fascists focused greatly on colonising, internally and externally, in borderland areas and in reclaimed regions in the metropole, and in Africa, where the regime invested massively. Between the wars there were also renewed Japanese imperial efforts, especially in Manchuria (see Chapter 8). There were new colonialist imaginings the Nazi regime developed for eastern Europe. And, unrelatedly, there was also the prestate Zionist colonisation of Palestine, a colonial project that could be ascribed to third wave colonialism, even if it developed in a belated fashion. It is significant that all these colonising efforts claimed in one way or another to not be colonial: the neocolonies were ostensibly independent, the Mandates were ostensibly about ‘trusteeship’ and future self-governance, the fascist colonisers self-represented themselves as most unlike the ‘plutocratic’ French and British exploiters of colonised labour, the Japanese colonisers talked about ‘Asian’ freedom and emphasised that they were actually opposing the true imperialists (during WWII the Japanese propagandists would talk about an Asian ‘coprosperity’ sphere), the Nazis were thinking about a mix of settler colonialism and population transfers, while the Zionists represented themselves as socialist and nationalist ‘pioneers’, possibly ‘surrogate’ colonisers, certainly not colonisers in their own right, even though they relied on an imperial promise about a ‘national home’ in Palestine.2 Already colonialism had somewhat of a bad name (imperialism
132 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression had been used as a slur since the publication of Hobson’s book), and many were distancing themselves from it, even as they pursued their colonial projects.3 The sixth global colonial wave was composite. On the other hand, there was also a mounting decolonising wave. Diverse factors were involved in this process of progressive affirmation of political abilities and agency on the part of the colonised. The decolonial wave was composite too. Its different flows included, for example, the political consequences of explicit promises; the colonies had sustained the war effort and promises about future political emancipation had been issued to consolidate and mobilise support. The nationalist movements had understood these promises as binding (the colonisers were more evasive). The demobilised colonial soldiers who had fought in Europe and were now trained and organised were crucial in this context. Even though they seldomly participated directly in political agitation, their example was crucial to shaping expectations about an independent future for their countries. There were also international events contributing to the mounting wave of decolonisation. There was the example of post-WWI Turkey, a new postcolonial nation that had emerged from the ashes of a defeated empire that had also been an informal colony. Turkey had successfully resisted a series of imperialist interventions after the war. The imperialists had tried to partition Asia Minor amongst themselves but had failed. Turkey was now an autonomously modernising new nation –the Europeans were not the modernisers there, their claims about ‘progress’ were moot, and they were not needed. Republican post-imperial China also acted in a similar way in engendering anticolonial sentiments locally and internationally. Examples travelled widely. More generally, the now widespread rhetoric of ‘trusteeship’ –the notion that colonisers were only exercising their power temporarily and on behalf of and in the interest of colonised populations –foreshadowed an independent future for the colonised nations. These were only words at this stage, but they were powerful words. And there was decolonisation in Ireland. The Easter Rising in 1916 was an anticolonial act, followed by ruthless repression, followed by the realisation that even militarily winning would not restore the statu quo ante, followed by negotiations. There were also significant developing anticolonial international initiatives. Ideas about liberation and equality were circulating internationally and this was unprecedented. Garveyism, panafricanism, the first Pan- African Congress was held in Paris in 1919, antiracist conferences and networks, and even Rastafarianism, a new religious sensibility focusing on Africa, were all crucial drivers of a new anticolonial international movement. And then there was the influence of the Third Socialist International and of the Soviet Union, which was established as a federal entity in 1922. The Bolsheviks had defeated a succession of imperialist interventions through the Civil War, and the Soviets espoused in the 1920s a coherent internal policy of ‘indigenisation’. The aim was to ‘indigenise’ the local Soviet authorities
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 133 at all levels, and to create Sovietised indigenous elites who would embrace Soviet modernity on their own national (and therefore internationalist) terms. This policy was followed closely internationally, especially by some Indigenous intellectuals who realised that their nationalities were irreversibly encompassed within larger entities.4 The Third Socialist International, unlike the Second one, which had typically failed to engage with the question of colonialism, took the prospected independence of colonised peoples seriously and acted as a crucial engine of decolonising activity, a pump enabling a global decolonising tide to come. Prominent anticolonial leaders participated and debated at this international venue. Many anticolonialists remained sceptical and for good reason, as they realised that the interests of the International were often prioritised over the specific demands of colonised constituencies, but internationalist anticolonialism between the wars was not an afterthought, and the very fact that there was a lively debate and intense international and internationalist exchange was a crucial development.5 Promoting a strategy for the communist movements of the colonised world, the Third International directed that local communists should ally themselves with anti-colonial nationalists and defeat imperialism first. National revolution, decolonisation, was thus seen as a necessary station towards a socialist revolution that was to be postponed. In the 1920s and 1930s, a generation of Asian and African nationalists would train in Soviet universities, and Soviet support and experience would be absolutely crucial to nationalist anticolonial struggles during the subsequent decades. *** And yet, as noted, in most of the colonial world life ostensibly continued as before. The colonial administrators and the bureaucrats, and the scientists, and the anthropologists –anthropology was a relatively new scholarly discipline deeply embedded in colonial governance –were very busy between the wars. Many men (and increasingly so, many women) from various western European countries were trying their luck in the colonies; their numbers were increasing, and many colonised subjects travelled towards colonies from other colonies too: merchants, labourers, ethnic and religious minorities. The Lebanese and Syrians went everywhere in the French Empire and further afield; many Indian communities dwelled in many British colonies. Colonialism immobilised some colonised populations as it enticed other ones to move. The trading houses dealing in colonial trades did well too between the wars, at least until the Depression, which hit the colonial economies hardest (the colonies, both the ones shaped by mercantilism and those relying on free trade, were disproportionately relying on international trade). The Depression accelerated mercantilist affiliations and protectionist imperial arrangements. The British Dominions, for example, obtained for a while privileged access to UK markets. It was generally thought that the colonies would last centuries, and various modes and styles of colonial rule were further refined: ‘direct rule’ through bureaucratic means; proxy rule through corporate governance; ‘indirect rule’ through the employment of local ‘traditional’ collaborators;
134 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression informal colonialism through mechanisms of unequal exchange, the agency of consular representatives, and a compliant comprador bourgeoisie; and colonialism by ‘responsible government’ through settlers minorities, especially in Africa. Generally, collaboration relied on reinforcing traditional social structures in exchange for subordination, but there was great diversity in local arrangements, and different colonial regimes relied on diverse networks of local collaboration, a characteristic that fundamentally shaped the ways they operated and rewarded participation.6 These basic options, of course, could mix flexibly on the ground, even within the same colony. These modes were the legacy of the succession of the colonial waves that had engulfed the globe in the preceding 400 years. There had been no template for colonial world domination, no coherent system. There were models of colonial governance, but each colonial tradition typically preferred one type of rule over the others. Direct rule relied on native manpower and on a thin or larger complement of imported administrators, indirect rule relied on a class of ‘traditional’ rulers, but also on foreign residents and their collaborators. The French colonial authorities consistently promoted ‘association’, and the formation of a Francophone elite, a mix of both assimilation and subordination and oscillated between the two.7 Every colonial power believed they were doing a better job than their counterparts and said so; at times, the colonial authorities experimented with innovative policies, and many colonies were used as ‘laboratories’ for social practices that might then be imported into the metropole. In any case, colonialism was reproducing and even creating ethnopolitical cleavages, the seed of future postcolonial dysfunction. Indirect rule modes of governance were especially designed to distinguish between ‘native’ colonial subjects, and other colonial subjects, those hailing from homelands located elsewhere. Shared subjection was therefore deemphasised. Besides, this ethnopolitical fracturing placed the colonizers at the centre of all political dynamics in the colonies. Colonialism also emphasised gender differences.8 Women were typically worse off under colonial arrangements and typically lost status as the colonial regime became entrenched, especially wherever they had maintained significant political power in traditional precolonial societies. So much for relying on ‘native’ authorities. In a sense, the colonised male often became an indirect ruler of an invented native patriatchal tradition. Conversely, and importantly, between the wars, various modes of anticolonial agency were refined and gathered unprecedented strength. Resistance to and collaboration with the colonial regime could mix; they always had. ‘Traditional’ resistors (but what ‘traditional’ would mean was and remains fraught), ‘neotraditional’ syncretic insurgents mixing traditional and appropriated political languages and practices, and modernising educated elites all resisted colonialism and racism, even if they did so in radically differing ways. Colonised individuals and groups would negotiate, accommodate, petition, militate, exercise nonviolent resistance, coordinate,
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 135 and act covertly or ostensibly. Resistors would also shift from one to the other modes of anticolonial resistance, or simultaneously embrace different strategies. If one group embraced one strategy, another would embrace the other. Together they would challenge imperial control. As collaboration and resistance often melted into each other, armed insurrection, ostensible insubordination, avoidance, negotiation, petitioning, accommodation, and other ‘weapons of the weak’-like practices all became part of a spectrum of possibility.9 Roles changed in a dynamic pattern. Resistors could be co-opted within systems of indirect rule, collaborators could become frustrated or disillusioned and seek radical alternatives. It was the European-educated classes of the colonial world, those who had culturally appropriated, collaborated, and assimilated, who often took the lead in the subsequent era of decolonisation. Both the Indian National Congress and the African National Congress in South Africa, for example, had worked through the colonial system for decades to improve their position legally. Until they did not, and then became formidable adversaries of the colonial regimes. These former collaborators were already strategically located; they could become judges if they had studied law, they could organise armies if they had military experience, and they could run departments and ministries if they had been bureaucrats. The concomitant decolonial and neocolonial global waves would only crest after WWII, but by then they had been surging for decades, even if they had not always been visible, and even though the imperial systems had appeared stable. Indeed, between the wars the colonial state was consolidating and expanding almost everywhere. It was geographically expanding, finally reaching the remote districts encompassed within its claims, and extending its control over and ability to mobilise colonised populations. But paradoxically, it was precisely this formation, the consolidating and expanding colonial state, that would ultimately render fifth and sixth wave colonialisms unnecessary. Why exercise control from a distant metropole when the local state could control and perform autonomously? Why duplicate? Similar questions had been asked before, as we have seen when the political economists had challenged the mercantilist institutions of their day. ‘Trusteeship’ was thus the name of yet another prospected colonial changeover. The US government, especially under the Roosevelt administration, for example, consistently promoted the notion of temporary ‘trusteeships’ for the colonies, especially for the British ones, and consistently frustrated British attempts to retain or regain control of their colonies after WWII. The trusteeships were to be ‘mandates’ of a new type, and their future independence would be inevitable. But they were also to be subjected to forms of American informal dominion, as British diplomats noted and regretted. American corporations, especially after WWII, saw traditional monopolistic colonial arrangement as unjustifiable. For them, neocolonial decolonisation was about facilitated access to new markets. They envisaged unequal relationships.
136 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression The ‘Mandates’ in Africa, the Pacific and the Middle East were in theory premised on contract-like provisions, whereby the colonising powers were at least formally subjected to the scrutiny of the ‘international community’ and there were reporting requirements.10 According to the Mandate Commission, a former colony was to be placed under the protection of the League of Nations and from there to the protection of a colonising power; the colonised peoples that were subjected to this authority failed to notice a great difference. The League of Nations would formally issue a Mandate to a specific colonising power, or even a consortium of colonising nations, like it did for the former German colony of Nauru, which was allocated to Australia, Britain and New Zealand jointly, even if in varying proportions (the Australians got the lion’s share). The Mandates were a new colonial formation because they were distributed by the ‘international community’, and because they were not based on traditional colonial doctrines like ‘discovery’ or ‘effective occupation’, but in other respects the Mandates replicated exactly old colonial formations: they were premised on a demonstrated ability to provide ‘effective governance’, which reproduced the colonising logic that had been agreed upon at the Berlin Conference. Like for the previous fifth global colonial wave, this new wave typically envisaged exclusive unequal relations (even though the Mandates were in a sense a form of inclusive colonialism, as they were sanctioned by an international governmental organisation). The Mandatory powers were typically very jealous of their prerogatives and typically interpreted their role as that of a colonising power. These colonisers generally avoided their reporting responsibilities.11 Where settlers were involved during the sixth wave (i.e., in Palestine, in Manchuria, and in Libya, Kenya, Rhodesia, Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, and in many other parts of the world), the colonisers aimed to combine elements of fifth and third wave colonialism (the aim was to have settlers on the ground and metropolitan colonial control, rather than control exercised directly by the settlers). As the new communities of settlers were now to be established in densely populated locales, the need to separate spatially coloniser and colonised became acutely felt. The exploitative requirements typical of the colonial relation were retained, but they were combined with the logic of elimination that is typical of third wave colonialism. This combination resulted in practices of systematised containment. Colonialism had always resulted in a starkly divided world, now it aimed to combine two types of colonialism by subjecting different collectives to different modes of domination in locales that were contiguous and yet separate. What would become known and legally codified as ‘apartheid’, an Afrikaner word meaning separateness, was a global phenomenon. Its procedural genealogy could indeed be traced to Canada, which had developed a pass system for Indigenous peoples exiting their reservations, to the American reservations, and even to fascist Ethiopia, where the authorities had mandated segregation to prevent ‘miscegenation’, measures the fascist authorities had implemented and
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 137 enforced in order to sustain the Italian ‘empire of labour’.12 Segregation in colonial settings was now enshrined in law whereas it previously had been mostly a matter of established convention. The sixth global colonial wave on the one hand, and the decolonial (and neocolonial) waves on the other, eventually crashed mightily onto each other. After this collision some colonial forms were submerged forever and only survive as nostalgia (and yet, imperial nostalgia is a politically relevant and enduring feeling, as for example was demonstrated by the result of the Brexit referendum in 2016).13 Neocolonialism and decolonisation would float victorious in the choppy waters of the brand-new post-WWII world. After this last imperialist war, the colonial world had changed forever, even if many refused to see the writing on the wall, or the marks that the receding waters were leaving behind. *** At the international peace conference in Paris in 1919, the Japanese Racial Equality proposal had been fiercely opposed by the Franco-British and the Australians –with success. Despite its name, the Japanese proposal was not about sanctioning the equality of coloniser and colonised, but about proclaiming the equal ability to colonise irrespectively of race. And yet such proposition was nonetheless perceived as an intolerable affront to racist and imperialist sensitivities. The Japanese delegates were not amused by this deliberate insult –they believed that their country had successfully adopted colonising technologies in previous decades, and that it had been able to autonomously improve best practice in delivering colonial governance. It was a paradox: an anticolonial reflex (i.e., a demand for racial equality) was one result of frustrated colonialism (that is, of a frustrated demand to be recognised as a fully fledged member of a group of colonising powers). Also at the Paris conference, a young Ho Chi Minh had sought to meet US President Woodrow Wilson. He possibly imagined that a leader of a postcolonial nation would productively engage with the future leader of a future postcolonial nation, but his request was denied. It was a missed opportunity for recognition; the US would need to deal with him and the independent postcolonial nation later. After WWI many colonies were ‘changed over’ and redistributed amongst victorious colonisers. The former Ottoman provinces in the Middle East, and the colonies of the German Empire were allocated to new colonial masters. These were classic ‘changeovers’, and the colonised were not consulted. Demands for independence were ruthlessly repressed by the new colonial authorities: in Syria, for example, and in Iraq immediately after the war. The ‘Sykes–Picot Agreement’ had partitioned the Middle East between Britain and France: a straight line was drawn across the map, another act of colonial ‘witchcraft’ with immense consequences. The Balfour Declaration accompanied the implementation of the Sykes–Picot Agreement. This act of appropriation initiated yet another regional imperial scramble. The surveying posts that had been erected along this line were allegedly finally
138 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression removed as a propaganda act by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in 2015. This was a quasi-sovereign entity that during its heyday controlled areas straddling both sides of the internationally agreed line; it was supposed to be an act of anticolonial defiance, but the bulldozers of the Islamists may have been operating away from the actual line. But there were significant strains in the international colonial system, and they were becoming visible. Ataturk had led a successful Indigenist- nationalist revolution, while the Russian revolution had established an ostensibly postimperial state (colonialist ‘Russification’ would return in the 1930s, however). The establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912, with the nationalists winning over the traditionalists, had also forcefully placed the question of national postcolonial autonomy from foreign interference on the international agenda. Besides, India had officially become a ‘diarchy’ (1919–1932), even though the Indian National Congress would thereafter continuously challenge British rule. The British would then play different ethnoreligious groups against each other, and primarily Muslims against Hindus, in order to divide the anticolonialist forces. Independence and the possibility of a postimperial order were on the horizon, especially in Asia, where the ‘demonstration effect’ of successful anticolonial struggles was most visible to onlookers.14 Decolonisation would often travel by example (the spread of colonialism also had, as we have seen, and the non-Iberian powers of the second global colonial wave had deliberately set out to emulate their competitors from the first one). The general expectation, however, was that for the moment decolonisation would remain distant, a horizon rather than a reality. Delay would become the strategic posture of committed colonialists, a position that could rely on traditional entrenched assumptions about history and the role of Europe in its development. The colonised peoples of the world were still assigned to the ‘waiting room of history’: emancipation remained firmly in an unspecified future.15 In the Middle East, a few neocolonial independences were declared in the 1930s; for example in Iraq in 1932, but British substantive control had remained, especially around the Suez Canal, which was more than ever before the gateway to India and had to be secured as an absolute priority. The issue of petroleum was now affecting choices about colonial policy –the oil ‘rush’ of the early decades of the twentieth century could be interpreted as yet another example of a specific colonial commodity generating its own global colonial wave. After Winston Churchill had decided that the British Navy would rely on oil rather than coal, British sustained access to Iranian oil had become a strategic priority. In Palestine, the British promoted the Zionist political project and its autonomy in crucial ways and at crucial times. In the end, in 1939, the British administration decided to rein in the Yushuv (a Hebrew term meaning ‘colony’). In 1936, the indigenous Palestinians had formed a militant insurgency. The British would eventually lose control. Their colonialism was on its way out
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 139 and they could no longer delay. The Israeli War of Independence, or the Palestinian Nakba followed, in 1948–1949. But this would become in many respects another colonial changeover, because for the colonised Palestinians it would be an unmitigated disaster. The new imperial hegemon, as the US replaced the British, would in this case further confirm a colonial changeover pattern. ‘Overseas France’ aimed to integrate, not to decentralise, like the British were also aiming to do (these were largely rhetorical postures, in practice both colonial powers aimed primarily to control and profit). But the French Republic did not integrate much between the wars, it delayed, and even the French communist party did not integrate, not even in Algeria. Arab rebellion there would be socialist and nationalist, not Marxist. It would be the opposite in Indochina, but in Indochina there were very few French communists on the ground. The nationalists in the French colonies by the late 1940s were unwilling to wait any longer. The Mandates of the League of Nations were in many ways a delaying device. They were colonial administrations established for the purpose of one day promoting independence, but the Mandates never stipulated specific schedules. Moreover, the governance-building provisions of the Mandates were not taken seriously, and the Mandates were largely undistinguishable from other colonies. But if the Mandates had rewarded the victors of the imperialist war, the powers that had been excluded from the spoils at Paris and in Geneva developed resentful colonial ‘waves’ of their own –fascism was also colonialism. Thus Japan and Italy actively developed their eccentric colonial traditions between the wars. Notably, these powers used anticolonial rhetoric (i.e., ‘Asia for the Asians’, or the notion of a ‘proletarian’ type of colonialism, a type of colonialism distinct from bourgeois Anglo-French and plutocratic ones). Germany too developed an alternative colonialist project in the 1930s (and in the 1940s implemented it). For a while Germany demanded that its ultramarine colonies be returned, and that its status as a legitimate member of the international colonising club be restored. The Nazis, however, redirected the country’s colonial ambitions away from the restoration of the ultramarine colonies of Wilhelmine Germany and towards the prospect of reviving an imagined ancient German colonial eastward expansion.16 These imperialists also were unwilling to wait any more. A new imperialist conflict had become inevitable. The Italian fascists were particularly active and ambitious in their colonies. Italy had been a late starter, and had faced severe setbacks in colonial scenarios, but the fascist regime felt it could and should catch up. A ruthless campaign to ‘reconquer’ Libya was waged in the 1920s. Ethiopia was occupied in the late 1930s, and several projects to settle the various ‘Promised Lands’ fascism had imagined for the emigrating Italian masses were aggressively pursued. The Italians proclaimed that they had developed an alternative colonial method and ethos: they were establishing ready- made communities of settlers and many international observers carefully followed
140 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression these experiments.17 The Italian fascists also built a fence in the Libyan desert to separate insurgent anticolonial guerrillas from their provisioning sources, the first wall of the twentieth century. The fascist colonial authorities were especially anxious about interracial sex (they were concerned about upholding racial prestige because the fascist colonisers were meant to labour, which would also undermine their colonial ‘prestige’). Breaking with previous practice in the Italian colonies, they eventually enforced, albeit somewhat unsuccessfully, a segregationist regime. As they went about their late colonial endeavours, the Italian colonial armies also developed modern counterinsurgency as a systematic mode of war, and bombed civilians from above and with chemical weapons (the British had bombed from above already in Iraq immediately after WWI, but the fascist Italians committed more systematic war crimes). The fascists undoubtedly executed genocidal campaigns.18 Nearly a million victims were either killed or left to die in Libya during the counterinsurgency campaigns.19 Other colonialists would in the 1950s take up and improve the counterinsurgency techniques the Italians had experimented on. Between the wars the Japanese aimed to consolidate a self-contained and self-sufficient imperial polity, a classic mercantilist undertaking. They needed access to raw materials that were being extracted in the Western- held colonies of southeast Asia, especially in the Dutch and British colonies, less so the French and American ones. They needed oil, tin, and rubber, but crippling blockades and sanction regimes implemented and enforced by the Western powers, and especially the US, had created serious provisioning problems for the Japanese imperialists. They were controlling many colonies, but not colonies of the right type (see Chapter 8). The Japanese imperialists failed in their bid for hemispheric supremacy, they lost the imperialist war, but during that war they temporarily controlled most of the colonies of southeast Asia. This occupation permanently incapacitated the European empires in Asia –it interrupted empire. Like the metropolitan colonisers were interrupted during Europe’s revolutionary wars and never regained their footing in the American colonies, the Western colonialists never really recovered in Asia. In 1942 Sir Stafford Cripps had offered India full Dominion status within the Empire, or the possibility of independence. Gandhi called this offer ‘a post- dated cheque on a crashing bank’.20 Once the myth of European invincibility was gone, the Europeans never regained legitimacy or a solid foothold. Delay as a strategic posture was no longer suitable because the colonisers needed to regain control after losing it. Like colonialism piggybacks on subjection, decolonisation piggybacks on imperial loss. The colonialists now needed to act fast. India and Pakistan became simultaneously independent, even if the aftershocks of Partition, and Partition was shocking, lasted decades. The spinning wheel was chosen for the newly independent nation’s flag as a symbol of India’s recovered self-reliance. Independence and decolonisation followed shortly after elsewhere in the region: in Indonesia (nationalist leader
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 141 Sukarno was a moderate, and the US insisted on Indonesian independence as a matter of anticommunist alliance building), in the Philippines, in Viet Nam (the Viet Minh, and the anticolonial insurgents in Malaya, on the contrary, were communists, and the US fiercely opposed their bids). The battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 was a defining turning point, as crucial in the history of anticolonial confrontations as the battle of Adwa had been in 1896 and the naval battle of Tsushima in 1905, when the Russian fleet had been vanquished on its way to Vladivostok (the battle of Isandlwana in 1879, and the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 were also crucial engagements where European expeditionary forces had been defeated by native resistors, but they held less strategic significance). Decolonisation had been on the horizon, but now the horizon was at times brought forward. By now there was yet another colonial ‘wave’ powerfully rising: the US was stepping in almost everywhere in the colonial world, that is, everywhere the nationalists might opt to receive Soviet support (except where the local nationalists had already received Soviet support and were in control). During the last few years of WWII and in the immediate postwar period, the ‘Quiet American’ was very busy. CIA-supported coups in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s were the precursors of a new mode of quasi-colonial intervention –failure at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1960 was an exception. The US government had cut a deal with a Saudi aristocrat already in 1933. This had been a colonial changeover of sorts. Son of a Ceylon coffee planter ‘Jack’ Philby had helped negotiations between the Saudis and Standard Oil; he had converted to Islam, supported Ibn Saud over King Husayn, and thus sustained the American-backed claimant over the British one. The US was actively preparing for a brand new neocolonial world and was at times adopting an explicitly anticolonial rhetoric. It had been preparing this new world for decades. The Monroe Doctrine had been proclaimed early in the nineteenth century, in 1824, but only later was it properly enforced. The ‘American century’ was also proclaimed somewhat prematurely, but its time had arrived.
142 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression
Chapter 7 –Further Resources 1) Cartoon by John T. McCutcheon for the Chicago Tribune, April 1920.
Figure 7.1 Cartoon by John T. McCutcheon for the Chicago Tribune, April 1920 © The Granger Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: The League of Nations was a Wilsonian idea, but by 1920 the US had re-embraced isolationism and turned away from international engagement. The wall (or fence) was a Monrovian idea, it made sense to the author of this cartoon, but it is a very current idea as well. This time, however, the Trump-prospected wall is about excluding immigrants from coming in, not
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 143 about excluding other imperialists from acquiring influence in a region that is to be exclusively claimed for US imperialists. Then again, was not ‘Uncle Sam’ engaging in similarly colonial practices and sowing the seeds of future wars behind the fence represented in this image? It was occupying Haiti (between 1915 and 1934), occupying the Dominican Republic (between 1916 and 1924), neocolonising Cuba (until 1959), and occupying Puerto Rico (it still does). Note how in this representation the Japanese character is behaving like the other imperialists and is not racially marked (all the characters wear military uniforms, and only the Britisher is an exception). Racist representations of Japanese individuals, of course, would surface in subsequent decades in American public discourse ... 2) Movie for discussion: The Quiet American (2002) Note: The world represented here is a world in transition … Question: Who is the true colonialist in this movie? 3) Chapter 7 –Main Points 1) After one major imperialist global conflict (WWI), and before another one (WWII), a variety of competing and mounting global ‘waves’ were affecting the colonial world: a ‘high’ imperialist wave, a decolonising/ anticolonial wave, and a neocolonial wave. The storm was approaching. 2) Contributing to a new composite global colonial wave (the sixth) were many neocolonial experiments, the League of Nations Mandates, the renewed colonising efforts of the Italian fascists, the Japanese imperial efforts, and even the prestate Zionist colonisation of Palestine. These colonising efforts were very different from each other, and yet they all paradoxically claimed in one way or another to be ‘noncolonial’, or even anticolonial. Colonialism already had a bad name in the conduct of international affairs. 3) Contributing to the mounting decolonial wave were the promises about political emancipation issued during WWI, the many demobilised soldiers who had received military training and had returned to their countries, the example of post-WWI nationalist Turkey, the colonial ideology of ‘trusteeship’ (the principle that colonial governance was only justifiable if it was to be conducted in the interest of the colonised populations), a number of anticolonial international movements, the example of the Soviet policy of indigenisation and national empowerment, the growing influence of the Third Communist International, and the Soviet policy of training and providing support to a generation of Asian and African nationalists.
144 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 4) And yet, life in the colonial world often continued without much change. There were many types and styles of colonial governance, including direct rule through an imported bureaucracy, indirect rule through ‘traditional’ authorities, informal rule relying on a comprador bourgeoisie, rule by proxy (i.e., allowing corporate concerns to govern entire regions), and rule by self-governing settlers. 5) Different legal regimes applied to different constituencies; one set of rules for ‘natives’, and another for everyone else. Many communities of subjected peoples moved within the empires that encompassed their countries. 6) Between the wars there were also increasing instances of anticolonial resistance. Resistance and collaboration could and did mix. There were ‘traditional’ and ‘neotraditional’ resistors. There were also modernising colonised elites, and they also challenged the colonial regime and/or collaborated with it at different times. Different resistors could negotiate, accommodate, petition, militate, boycott, coordinate, act individually or collectively, and covertly or ostensibly. 7) Then the ‘boomerang effect’ of colonialism ran its course. If Hobson had prophecied that imperialist despotism would eventually spill- over into the metropole, Hannah Arendt could look back in the 1950s and see that colonialism had indeed entered the European space through fascism. In 1936 a colonial army had landed in Spain to wage a war of occupation. The line separating colony and metropole had become blurred. 8) All these distinct global waves affecting the colonial world would mightily smash onto each other during WWII. The war ended in 1945, but the ‘storm’ in the colonial world was more protracted and lasted two more decades. As the storm subsided, two often concomitant circumstances had emerged globally: a neocolonial condition, and a postcolonial one. They also could and did mix.
Map 7.1 The Sixth Global Colonial Wave, 1919–1960s
The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression 145 4) The Sixth Global Colonial Wave, 1919–1960s
THE SIXTH GLOBAL COLONIAL WAVE
146 The Last Wave? High Imperialism and Fascist Aggression
Notes 1 Ferguson, Empire, p. 332. 2 Scott Atran, ‘The Surrogate Colonization of Palestine, 1917–1939’, American Ethnologist, 16, 4, 1989, pp. 719–744. 3 As Robert J. C. Young noted about colonialism, there was a ‘shift in the twentieth century […] from positive to negative connotation’. Robert J. C. Young, ‘Colonia and imperium’, Paragraph, 38, 2, 2015, p. 277. 4 Benjamin Balthaser, ‘From Lapwai to Leningrad: Archie Phinney, Marxism, and the Making of Indigenous Modernity’, Ab Imperio, 1, 2020, pp. 39–58. 5 See, for example, Susan Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich: Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2009. 6 Ronald Robinson, ‘Non-European Foundations of European Imperialism: Sketch for a Theory of Collaboration’, in R. Owen, B. Sutcliffe (eds), Studies in the Theory of Imperialism, London, Longmans, 1972, pp. 117–140. 7 Alice Conklin, A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895–1930, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1997. 8 Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002. 9 James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2008, pp. 513–633. 10 Antony Anghie, ‘Colonialism and the Birth of International Institutions: Sovereignty, Economy, and the Mandate System of the League of Nations’, NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, 34, 2001, pp. 513–633. 11 Susan Pedersen, ‘Settler Colonialism at the Bar of the League of Nations’, in Caroline Elkins, Susan Pedersen (eds), Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century: Projects, Practices, Legacies, New York, Routledge, 2005, pp. 113–134. 12 Mahmood Mamdani, Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2020; Emanuele Ertola, ‘ “White Slaves”: Labor, Whiteness, and Settler Colonialism in Italian East Africa (1935– 1941)’, Labor History, 2020, 61, 5–6, 2020, pp. 551–567. 13 Meghan Tinsley, ‘Revisiting Nostalgia: Imperialism, Anticolonialism, And Imagining Home’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43, 13, 2020, pp. 2327–2355. 14 David B. Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415–1980, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000, p. 358. 15 Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 8. 16 See Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe, London, Penguin, 2008. 17 Patrick Bernhard, ‘Borrowing from Mussolini: Nazi Germany’s Colonial Aspirations in the Shadow of Italian Expansionism’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 41, 4, 2013, pp. 617–643. 18 Sven Lindqvist, A History of Bombing, New York, The New York Press, 2003. Systematic bombing was tested on colonial populations first. It was then unleashed on metropolitan ones at Guernica, Spain, in 1937. 19 Eric Salerno, Genocidio il Libia: le atrocità nascoste dell’avventura coloniale, Roma: manifestolibri, 2005. 20 Cited in Ferguson, Empire, p. 347.
8 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945
Anyone can do colonialism –it is a relationship defined by displacement and domination. Displacement and domination are not ethnic, racial, or socio-cultural categories. In the middle of the nineteenth century, during the peak of the fourth global colonial wave, Japan seemed to be on the brink of becoming yet another polity slated for future subjection to colonial or semicolonial domination. US admiral Perry had visited the country with an impressive fleet of gunboats in 1853 and had demanded that the country be ‘opened’ for trade with foreigners. But Japan was not colonised. Instead of becoming subjected to external forces by way of unequal treaties, like China had been, the country began aggressively colonising instead.1 The Harris Treaty of 1858, signed with the US, had been a typical unequal treaty (it was unilaterally denounced at a later stage when the Japanese state carefully asserted its sovereign prerogatives). Seen in global terms, however, the case of Japan is not exceptional. Many noneuropean precolonial states have engaged in recognisably colonialist relations with their neighbours, and many postcolonial successor states in the ‘Third World’ and, later, in the Global South have engaged and do engage in recognisably colonial actions within the borders they have inherited (and sometimes without). Indeed, anyone can do colonialism.2 Japanese colonialism and imperialism were active between the Meji Restoration of 1868, which initiated a policy of accelerated modernisation, and the country’s defeat and surrender in August 1945. It was an abrupt end, even though there were significant aftermaths in this colonial history, including the return of the Japanese settlers from Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria, which was a protracted affair. After WWII, Japan broke off with its militaristic and colonialist/imperialist past, and was even invited to attend the anticolonial conference at Bandung in newly independent Indonesia (see Chapter 9). In recent decades, however, the Japanese government has embraced a more interventionist foreign policy. Japanese colonialism was diverse, and reproduced in different locales and at different times many of the colonial modes of domination that characterised the different ‘waves’ of European colonial expansion in its multicentury history.3 This replication should not surprise, and there is DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-9
148 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 nothing inevitable about it: the Japanese authorities were determined to emulate Western expansion and for decades experimented with the available models of colonial governance in order to deal with a range of strategic and industrial challenges. They also employed selected personnel and advisors from overseas to inform and implement these policies. Thus, there were distinct colonial ‘waves’ in the case of Japanese colonialism too, as we will see: third wave colonialism in what is today the northern island of Hokkaido, second wave colonialism in Formosa/Taiwan, fourth wave colonialism in the Chinese ‘concessions’ (the aim was to imitate the ‘successes’ of Singapore and Hong Kong and promote trade, especially through the ‘free’ port of Dairen), fifth wave colonialism in Korea, and sixth wave colonialism in Manchuria. The Japanese colonial authorities opted primarily for forms of direct rule, however. In 1935, when it was most extended and before WWII, the Japanese colonial empire covered the southern half of Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands in the north, the islands of Formosa and Micronesia to the south, and Korea and Manchuria to the west. There was also a significant ‘ethnographic’ empire in the Americas and the Pacific: in Brazil, Hawaii, Peru, western Canada, California and other parts of the United States, and Mexico.4 These communities of Japanese immigrant settlers in the diaspora were understood as an integral part of the country’s overseas expansion, even though they had been established under foreign sovereignty.5 There was also a puppet state in Manchuria controlled and defended by the Japanese army. Beside Manchukuo, the Japanese army also occupied significant parts of China. During WWII, Japan was able to further expand its imperial/colonial presence in China, in large regions of southeast Asia, the Pacific, and Melanesia. Plans for a ‘Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere’ envisaged a system of recognisably colonial (i.e., formal), and informal or neocolonial relations. This latter type of colonialism was supported by a corresponding ideological apparatus, and Japanese nationalists since the beginning of the century had been writing about various types of affinity with the Koreans and about the ambition of ‘redeeming’ all of Asia. But if the development of Japan’s colonial empire reproduced the forms of western Europe’s colonial expansion, in one respect it was crucially distinct. Japanese expansionist colonialism was synchronous with a parallel and exceptionally rapid process of industrialisation and militarisation. In Japan these processes proceeded together, reinforced each other and may be seen as part of a coherent whole. The government’s slogan was ‘Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Military’ (‘Fukoku Kyōhei’). This was in marked contradistinction to developments in western Europe and its history of colonial domination overseas. In western Europe, with the exception of the colonising latecomers of the fifth global colonial wave, colonialism came before industrialisation; there, capital accumulation and plunder extracted from the colonies had enabled and often directly financed the industrial take
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 149 off. In Japan, it was the other way round. In Japan, the search for colonial possessions had followed the onset of industrial growth.6 During the previous global colonial waves, Japan had evaded European colonialism –both too remote from hubs of colonial expansion and too close to China, which had always been the focus of imperialist attention. The old colonial powers had other concerns, while the emerging powers, especially Russia and the US, could not yet exercise their influence. Moreover, ‘seclusion’ (Sakoku) had traditionally characterised Japanese policies vis-à- vis visiting foreign traders. A sustained multi-century isolationist policy had ended in 1854 with the Convention of Kanagawa, finally ‘opening’ Japan to Western trade. A fleet of US gunboats had visited the archipelago the previous year and demanded that the country abandon seclusion or face the consequences. The Convention was a typical ‘unequal treaty’. Its drafters envisaged for Japan an inclusive form of colonialism, fourth wave style: no taxation for foreign goods, no tariffs, ‘exemptions’ for Western traders operating in the country, and a list of other special privileges for foreigners were all included in its text. Even a Russian expedition had travelled to Japan in the expectation of possibly colonising the country, considering its proximity to Russian possessions in the Far East. Seclusion had previously protected Japan, stemmed the tide of the many global colonial waves that had succeeded each other over the centuries; it had been an insuperable protective weir. Seclusion was now officially abandoned, but Japan was not to be subsumed in an international network of unequal trade. A crucial endogenous political transformation comprehensively transformed the developing relations between the country and its many colonialist suitors instead: the Meji Restoration. It should be emphasised that the victory of the modernising imperial party in 1868, was (among many other factors) premised on the stated need to resist Western penetration. The Restoration can indeed be seen as beginning with an ‘order to expel the barbarians’ issued in 1863, and in this sense could be seen as a successful anticolonial insurgency (and may be included with Haiti 1804, India 1857, Adwa 1896, and the Chinese revolution of 1911 in a genealogy of decolonisation). Anticolonial insurgencies relying on xenophobic feelings (for example, the Boxer rebellion of 1899–1901) would be ruthlessly repressed in China by foreign troops. But the Meji Restoration succeeded, and a country on the brink of being colonised became colonialist instead.7 Then again, the Japanese colonial expansion had in a way already begun by 1868. What is today Hokkaido, the Japanese archipelago’s northernmost island, was already a settler colony, even if many today would not see it as ever having been a colony.8 The Ainu, the Indigenous peoples of the region, however, would. There was a long history of reciprocal if unequal engagement between the Ainu and the Japanese polity to the south, and the island had been subjected to Japan’s control in previous centuries, but the mode of domination shifted dramatically during the middle decades of
150 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 the nineteenth century. During the century’s second half, the Ainu were violently exterminated and relentlessly pushed to the margin of society and geography; at one point the Ainu were even officially declared extinct and bureaucratically renamed ‘former Ainu’. A group of American advisors and academics had been tasked with promoting effective means to settler colonise the island.9 The Ryukyu Islands, to the south of the Japanese archipelago, were also incorporated within the metropolitan structures of the state and colonised by Japanese settlers after 1879 (the indigenous Okinawans were at times assimilated, even if this process was uneven).10 Indigenous Okinawans still populate the islands today. In Hokkaido and in the Ryukyu Islands Japanese colonisation was permanent –the tide of that regional colonial wave never receded. The English colonisers had been pirates first, settlers second, and only later had become exploiters of colonised labour. Third wave colonialism came first in the case of Japanese colonialism. *** After the Meji restoration, military and economic power were the main foci of a policy of national self-reliance. To pursue these policies, many foreign ‘advisors’ were invited to the country to enable a suite of modernisation projects. The army and the navy were restructured. The new judicial system and constitution (enacted in 1889) were modeled on that of Germany. British and American forms of free enterprise provided capitalist models for the financial and industrial sectors. These reforms were not directly linked to colonial interventions abroad, but the industrial and financial sectors eventually became promoters of Japanese colonial expansionism: the need to find international markets for industrially manufactured goods, and the need to find adequate international outlets for accumulated capital counselled an aggressive foreign policy. Foreign experts also contributed to creating the specific policies of Japanese colonial expansionism, and colonial experts were employed for the purpose of developing recently acquired Formosa (today’s Taiwan). The Japanese government believed that French expertise would be most appropriate for the task of developing that particular colonial possession; nearby French colonies in Indochina were seen as suitably similar. British-dominated Egypt was to be the model for Japanese-controlled Korea. Japanese interests gradually took control of several Asian markets; sustained and enduring trade and migratory relationships with several Asian countries made this economic penetration possible.11 Textiles were the first sector to rely on exports, and cheaply manufactured textiles made in Japan inhibited the manufactures of other countries in eastern Asia the way cheaply manufactured textiles made in Manchester had destroyed India’s textile industry. Other manufacturing sectors then took off as well, including, eventually, heavy industry, machinery, and steel. Japan was now producing what the metropoles of the industrialised West were also producing –there was no economic complementarity with its competitors, which was a further factor recommending the exclusion of rivals from selected markets and
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 151 monopolisation. A mercantilist pattern characterised inter-imperial rivalries in the region while the Japanese economy was rapidly modernising. Japan’s economic relations with the wider region progressively became more and more recognisably colonial: peripheral regions became exporters of raw materials to Japan and markets for its manufactured goods. At the end of the nineteenth century the Japanese foreign engagements still primarily relied on trade. However, the country had successfully transitioned, and industrial production was prevalent by the 1930s.12 But there were chronic and significant gaps in strategic procurement. Iron, tin, rubber, and oil had to be procured in international markets during a progressively more and more mercantilist phase, and Japan was never self-sufficient. Japan needed colonies but could not access the right ones. The country had gunboats, however, and aggression should be seen as resulting from strength and, simultaneously, from strategic weakness. With industrialisation, the need to access raw materials (metropolitan Japan does not have many natural resources) and control sea lanes had both become a crucial economic necessity. There always was the possibility that hostile foreign powers would attempt to strangle the Japanese economy by withholding access to resources, which they eventually did.13 Victory in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 ensured Japanese dominance in the immediate region and saw Japan extending its control over Formosa and Korea (which was eventually annexed in 1910). If the recently unified German state would initiate its ‘Weltpolitik’ by occupying a few colonies in Africa and the Pacific, the newly ‘restored’ Japanese state initiated its regional expansionist politics by occupying a chain of islands to the north and south, and a few toeholds on the Asian continent. This expansion triggered a regional ‘scramble’ for Asia, like the occupation of Egypt had prompted a race for African colonies. It was generally believed that Japanese and other imperialisms were inherently incompatible, even if the Western powers were collaborating in China. The outcome of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 saw another of Japan’s regional competitors greatly reduced in status. The Western powers had supported Russia in its attempt to wrestle the Chinese strategic city of Port Arthur from Japanese control; their status in regional matters was also lessened by Japanese victory. Only a few years before, the stipulation of a strategic alliance with Great Britain (in 1902) had further enhanced Japan’s international status. Alliance with Britain was a crucial diplomatic breakthrough –Japan was now ostensibly recognised as a regional power by the world’s leading coloniser. Most importantly, the war of 1905 showed that an imperial Western power could be defeated by a non-European one –this conflict had a huge impact in the history of decolonisation and its international reception was significant. The myths of European invincibility and that of a purported ‘Asiatic’ lack of initiative were dispelled. Both the colonisers and the colonised of the world watched carefully. This Japanese victory really was a shock to the global colonial regime, and at Port Arthur and Tsushima whole fleets
152 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 of gunboats had disappeared (if colonialism is gunboats mightily crossing the blue water, in a sense, the outcome of this war foreshadowed the end of colonialism). The gunboats had travelled from half a world away and had vanished. Importantly, Japanese victory over imperial Russia was obtained through higher discipline and superior organisation and technology, not greater numbers, or a better tactical knowledge of the terrain. These were meant to be Western characteristics; the imperialists in the Far East saw an intolerable challenge, the anticolonialists of Asia saw an opportunity to revitalise nationalist sentiments. During WWI, Japan sided with Britain and its allies and quickly occupied the German possessions in the Far East: the German leases in Shandong Province, and the Marianas, Caroline and Marshall Islands in the Pacific. Japan retained the Liaodong and Shandong provinces at the end of WWI to the dismay of the Chinese delegation to the Paris conference. Japan also controlled the islands it had occupied during the military operations as League of Nations Mandates, but they were small colonial change, and their acquisition did not alter the country’s underlying strategic disadvantage: no raw materials were directly available, and they could only be imported from the possessions of the country’s imperialist competitors. Other challenges for Japan included rapid industrialisation in Korea. The latter country was developing heavy industries, and its production was now interfering with Japanese manufacturing.14 As Japan possessed the wrong kind of colonies, the vision of a new colonial ‘order’ for the whole region took shape: according to this vision, a developed industrial ‘core’ constituted by Japan, Korea, and Northern China would have relied on a much wider provisioning area encompassing the whole of south-east Asia. The latter regions would have ensured profitable markets and opportunities for investment. The Japanese also intervened against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Far East in the aftermath of revolution. This attack was concomitant but not part of an international US-led expeditionary force –during this neo- mercantilist phase, even this imperialist aggression could not be coordinated. The Japanese forces were able to occupy all the important ports of the Russian Far East in 1918 –the Bolsheviks had other priorities at the time. It was a resolute anti-Russian and anti-communist struggle, and even after Western departure from Soviet soil in 1920 and Bolshevik consolidation in Europe and Central Asia, the Japanese continued to occupy the Russian Far East and militarily oppose Bolshevik forces there. They would only withdraw in 1922 in the face of international pressure and of rising casualties and expenditure. The acquisition and protection of exclusive ‘spheres of influence’ as a response to chronic shortages of raw materials for industrial production were the main goals of Japanese expansionism between the wars. The process of industrialisation had to be sustained –but Japan was finding it difficult to provision it with imports. Between the wars, parts of Manchuria were also occupied, and then a puppet state was established there in the 1930s.
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 153 It was called Manchukuo. This project was also about resolving what was called the ‘problem of the villages’ –a massive agrarian crisis. The emigration of landless peasants and the establishment of communities of settlers in this densely populated region was promoted as a possible solution.15 The English had also settled communities in the seventeenth century because they had failed in their quest to occupy more immediately lucrative strategic possessions. Still, Japan had no immediate access to strategic resources. *** Despite the achievements of its colonial and expansionary policy, Japan remained in a fragile geostrategic position. In the 1930s, this position deteriorated further.16 The Depression of the 1930s hit Japan hard, as the country relied on international trade relatively more than its competitors. Shortages became acute because the international markets for raw materials had shrunk dramatically. The country also witnessed significant and increasing social tension. Emigration to the Americas was also curtailed. This decades old avenue to defuse social tension was no longer available. Japan was now more than ever dependent on US or US-controlled production of crucial commodities and raw materials. Western exclusive control of strategic colonies in east and southeast Asia was undermining both Japanese economic self-sufficiency and ultimately its autonomy as a colonial power. The Western denial of access to markets for strategic resources became progressively more aggressive during the 1930s. Then it was no longer the ‘problem of the villages’ or rising social tension: it was a genuine revolutionary crisis, in the presence of a well-organised communist party with a growing following, landless rural masses, and massive industrial unemployment. To defuse tensions and because they were largely acting autonomously, Japanese forces had intervened in Manchuria in 1931. In 1933, a puppet state was established there. It seems significant that one of the pretexts used to justify the invasion had ostensibly been to ‘liberate’ and ‘protect’ the local Indigenous Manchus from Chinese Han control, it was an ostensibly anti-colonial proposition (of course it was an excuse, and the League of Nations did not care, as it set up a largely ineffective sanctions regime, but it was a telling excuse). Manchuria became a settler colony –there were plans to settle five million Japanese peasants there.17 It was to be a country where five national groups ‘living in harmony’ would cooperate and live side by side.18 A similar ‘Indigenous’ puppet state was later established in Inner Mongolia in 1936. Renewed intervention in China followed, with attacks both against the Communist and the Nationalist held areas. China had become more than previously the object of competing imperialist intervention. The Japanese were challenging the British– American inclusive hegemony of the previous decades (the Americans were rapidly becoming the majority holders in this partnership).19 As the Japanese expansion prospected an exclusive system of colonial relationships, the proclamation of the ‘Stimson Doctrine’ marked America’s escalation in the defence of Western interests in China.
154 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 It was a semicolony too profitable to abandon; and the US had committed to ‘protecting’ it against the possibility of Japanese domination. That the US was protecting it as a semicolony and not as an independent polity should be emphasised. Hostilities were mounting. The Chinese city of Nanking fell to Japanese troops in December 1937. The ‘Rape of Nanking’ was perpetrated against the civilian population and there were devastating atrocities, with estimated casualties amounting to 300,000. The Japanese forces were ordered to ‘kill all captives’ and unrestrained violence had followed.20 The Second Sino-Japanese War continued on and then turned seamlessly into WWII. The imperialist war began earlier and lasted longer in the Asia-Pacific. When a US embargo on the importation of oil and scrap metal was declared and enforced as a response to Japanese aggression, Japan was faced with an either/or decision: either back down and remain permanently in a subordinate position, or occupy the scarcely defended British and Dutch controlled colonies of Malaya, including Singapore, and the Dutch Indies (both very rich in strategic raw materials). The Japanese government opted to attack –given the circumstances and considering the role of the army in shaping foreign policy, it probably was a foretold decision. Seventy years after the Meji Restoration, the conflict was still about expelling the ‘barbarians’. Not from Japan proper this time, but from the whole of Asia. An anti-colonial reaction in metropolitan Japan had resulted in a multiplicity of colonialist initiatives, which in turn would produce a series of anti- colonial responses in many of the countries Japan occupied during WWII. To enlist nationalist support for the war against European and American colonisers, Japan promised a form of subordinate independence to many nationalist movements in the region: to the Philippines, to Indonesia, to Burma, and to India. WWII in the eastern theatre was as imperialist a war can be –there were several colonial changeovers in rapid succession. Quick Japanese victories in Malaya, Hong Kong, Singapore (which was a British ‘fortress’ meant to be impregnable), the Philippines, Burma and the Dutch East Indies –these were the most important colonies according to the Japanese plan –were followed by strategic defeats elsewhere. The British held India, especially because they were compelled to make promises of their own. Finally, nuclear bombs were unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki –ostensibly to avoid a costly campaign, but also as a show of US global ‘leadership’, especially after Soviet forces had invaded Manchuria without encountering much resistance. The latter were threatening to quickly occupy large parts of Eastern Asia. In the end, the Japanese empire was no more, and Japan was in tatters and under foreign occupation. It was ‘instant decolonisation’.21 The settlers were repatriated.22 This was one crucial way in which decolonisation was experienced: the traumatic ‘return’ of repatriated co-nationals. The other colonisers would also experience waves of returnees in the next two decades –in this Japan was a precursor, not a latecomer.
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 155 There were two paradoxical consequences of this imperialist war. As well as many neocolonial changeovers, the war also resulted in several more genuine postcolonial independences. The Dutch, French, and British colonial empires in Asia were crucially undermined during the war and never really recovered (and yet they tried in the 1940s and 1950s with all their might). A war for empire had ended in the end of (some) empires. Like in the past, imperialist war, the war for empire, undermined empire: it did so globally, as we have seen, at the end of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth century, in concomitance with mercantilist rivalries and the European revolutionary wars, and it did so globally after 1945. Nothing disrupts colonialism like the interruption of the subordinate relations linking metropole and colony. A blockade is an interruption, occupation without the consolidation of a new regime is an interruption. Disruption severs the relationship that links colony and metropole. Insurrected Haiti was blockaded by British forces and did not become a colony again. The British blockaded many of the Spanish American colonies, and the Peninsular War upset colonial relationships that had lasted centuries (and were recently renewed in the context of a project of imperial reform). The Japanese armies invaded the colonies of southeast Asia, and the colonisers never really recovered their former position there. A major difference between interruption and a colonial changeover is that in the latter the relationship is redirected or reconfigured, not interrupted. Defeat against the Japanese army also exposed the myth of white superiority, as it discontinued the ties that bound colony and metropole. During WWII, many colonies were severed from their metropoles beyond the colonies of East Asia that fell under Japanese occupation –the French empire was especially disrupted, as there were two ‘legitimate’ powers for years, and the colonial authorities on the spot had to decide which side they would support. The French never regained control of Syria and Lebanon, even though they tried to reoccupy these countries in 1945–1946. The second outcome of the imperialist war in the Asia Pacific was that, paradoxically, despite its crushing defeat, Japan’s strategic challenges were superseded. Immediately after the war, many of the economic ties that had kept together the Japanese empire were revived under Allied supervision in an effort to contain communist expansion in the region. There was thus an important strategic afterlife of the Japanese colonial empire. This time, however, the country could access international markets: raw materials for its industrial production flowed in, and exports flowed out. Industrial production was quickly restarted. It was not autonomous and exclusive access to colonies, but it was unfettered access to many neocolonies and their markets. After the war, the mercantilism/free trade pendulum had swung again, what could be construed as yet another global colonial wave was washing over, the neocolonial wave, and now the Japanese economy could benefit from the inclusive exploitation of much of the developing world under US hegemony.
156 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 As for ‘racial equality’, one of the demands of the Japanese delegation at the 1919 Paris conference, there also was a degree of supersession. In the 1960s, the South African apartheid government, the most racist government of all, had awarded Japanese businessmen the status of ‘honorary whites’. South Africa was trading intensely with rapidly developing Japan and Cold War necessities had recommended that particular revision. A century-long strategic impasse had been overcome.
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 157
Chapter 8 –Further Resources 1) The Japanese Occupation of Seoul, 1904
Figure 8.1 The Japanese Occupation of Seoul, 1904 © FLHC41/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: This is a display of military strength, but who is supposed to be watching? The colonised who are visible in this picture are looking in, they are definitely a target audience, the intention is to intimidate, but so presumably are the Western colonial powers. This parade and show of strength were part and parcel of what should be seen as a system of international colonial peer-review: the image of a marching regiment orderly parading in an urban setting was meant to convey the notion of ‘effective occupation’. Once successfully proclaimed, the occupation could not be challenged internationally, which for Japan was a strategic priority. 2) Movie for discussion: The Last Samurai (2003) Note: This is a Hollywood take on the Meji government’s determination to Westernise the army and traditionalist reaction … Question: Is the American veteran of the Civil War depicted in the movie a coloniser? 3) Chapter 8 –Main Points 1) ‘Seclusion’ had protected Japan from all previous global colonial waves. The Kanagawa Convention, which was signed at the peak of the fourth global colonial wave, was a typical unequal treaty designed to enable the colonial penetration of the country by Western powers. However, Japan was not colonised. After 1868, it centralised, it reformed, and it aggressively acquired many colonies
158 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945
instead. It avoided the fourth colonial wave, and then it produced several waves of its own. In the West, industrialisation had followed colonialism; in Japan (and in Germany and in Italy), industrialisation and colonial/ imperial expansion proceeded more or less simultaneously. Japan developed a composite tradition of colonial governance: it had direct colonies, settler colonies, an ‘ethnographic empire’ in the Pacific and the Americas, and a number of informal colonies. It considered French models for Formosa (today’s Taiwan; French Indochina was the model), British models for Korea (British-controlled Egypt was the model), and American models for Hokkaido (this was actually a settler third wave style colony already during the nineteenth century and is a settler society today). Despite undoubtable successes, the country could not overcome its strategic vulnerability: it could never achieve autonomous access to crucial raw materials. Its colonies did not produce oil, iron, tin, and rubber –the colonial commodities of the fifth global colonial wave. Japan had many colonies but not the right colonies. There were successive ‘bursts’ of Japanese colonial expansion: in 1894 (the First Sino-Japanese War), in 1904 (the Russo-Japanese War), in 1914 (WWI), in 1931 (Japanese intervention in Manchuria), after 1937 (the Second Sino-Japanese War), and after 1941 (WWII). Then there was an abrupt end to colonialism (and, like Germany in 1919, the experience of decolonisation). The Japanese colonial empire was then abruptly discontinued; all its colonies were abandoned. And yet, the imperialist war in Asia and the Pacific would accelerate the ultimate demise of all the colonial empires in the region. The French, British, and Dutch empires had become unsustainable by the war’s end and decolonisation was already unstoppable by the end of the 1940s. The US, however, set up after WWII a durable system of alliances that embraced neocolonial relations (excepting for Viet Nam, a country that could not be retained in this system despite enormous efforts, and Malaya which was retained, and where formal colonialism lasted longer than elsewhere). Ironically, the strategic impasses that had constrained Japanese expansion before the war did not apply after it. After WWII, Japan could access international markets for its expanding exports and to procure raw materials, initially under Allied supervision, then in its own right.
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 159 4) The Japanese Colonial Wave, 1868–1945
THE JAPANESE COLONIAL WAVE
Map 8.1 The Japanese Colonial Wave, 1868–1945
160 The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945
Notes 1 Hyman Kublin, ‘The Evolution of Japanese Colonialism’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2, 1, 1959, pp. 67–84. 2 Logically, anyone can do postcolonialism too. For a call to appraise Japanese/ Asian postcolonialities, see, for example, Choi Jung-Bong, ‘Mapping Japanese Imperialism onto Postcolonial Criticism’, Social Identities, 9, 3, 2003, pp. 325–336. 3 Ramon H. Myers, Mark R. Peattie, The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895–1945, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1984. 4 Sidney Xu Lu, The Making of Japanese Settler Colonialism: Malthusianism and Trans-Pacific Migration, 1869–1961, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019. 5 Eiichiro Azuma, In Search of Our Frontier Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2019. 6 Thomas Smith, ‘Japan’s Aristocratic Revolution’, in Thomas Smith, Native Sources of Japanese Industrialization, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, pp. 133–147. 7 Akira Iriye, ‘Japan’s Drive to Great-Power Status’, in Peter F. Kornicki (ed.), Meiji Japan: The Emergence of the Meiji State, London, Routledge, 1998, pp. 25–76. 8 Katsuya Hirano, ‘Thanatopolitics in the Making of Japan’s Hokkaido: Settler Colonialism and Primitive Accumulation’, Critical Historical Studies, 2, 2, 2015, pp. 191–218. 9 John A. Harrison, ‘The Capron Mission and the Colonization of Hokkaido’, Agricultural History, XXV, 1951, pp. 135–142. 10 Hiroko Matsuda, Liminality of the Japanese Empire: Border Crossings from Okinawa to Colonial Taiwan, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2019. 11 David R. Ambaras, Japan’s Imperial Underworlds: Intimate Encounters at the Borders of Empire, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018. 12 W. G. Beasley, Japanese Imperialism, 1894–1945, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991. 13 Current global tensions surrounding Chinese claims to the East and South China seas and China’s foreign infrastructure reach –the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy, a strategy that many commentators have compared to a project of colonial expansion –reproduce a similar geostrategic pattern. The table has turned; Japan is among the containers now. 14 Jun Uchida, ‘Brokers of Empire: Japanese and Korean Business Elites in Colonial Korea’, in Caroline Elkins and Susan Pedersen (eds), Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century: Projects, Practices, Legacies, New York, London, Routledge, 2005, pp. 153–170. 15 John C. de Boer, ‘Circumventing the Evils of Colonialism: Yanaihara Tadao and Zionist Settler Colonialism in Palestine’, Positions, 14, 3, 2006, pp. 567–595. 16 Louise Young, ‘When Fascism Met Empire in Japanese-occupied Manchuria’, Journal of Global History, 12, 2017, pp. 274–296. 17 Sandra Wilson, ‘The “New Paradise”: Japanese Emigration to Manchuria in the 1930s and 1940s’, The International History Review, 17, 2, 1995, pp. 249–286. 18 Louise Young, Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998. 19 Robert Smith Thompson, Empires on the Pacific: World War II and the Struggle for the Mastery of Asia, New York, Basic Books, 2002.
The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1868–1945 161 0 Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking, New York, Basic Books, 1997. 2 21 S. Conrad, ‘The Dialectics of Remembrance: Memories of Empire in Cold War Japan’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 56, 2014, pp. 4–33. 22 Lori Watt, When Empire Comes Home: Repatriation in Postwar Japan, 1945– 1958, New York, Columbia University Press, 2002.
9 Decolonisation Conceded or Conquered?
The British experience during and after WWII epitomises the era of decolonisation. During the war the Japanese forces had treated British and Australian prisoners in deliberately humiliating ways in front of ‘the natives’. The idea was to undermine their ‘racial prestige’. After the war, the British government had to face their American creditors, which also detracted from their prestige. After the war, Britain became a country of immigration from its colonies, no longer exclusively a country of emigration as it had been.1 The tables had turned, just like the tables had turned when armed Black men in uniform were patrolling German cities after WWI, and after the Japanese settlers had been repatriated in terrible circumstances. The crisis of Suez in 1956 was another turning point in the British experience of decolonisation: the Suez Canal Zone had been a British military base for decades, but by 1956 the British forces had finally evacuated it. The Anglo-French-Israeli intervention that followed the Egyptian takeover was sternly rebuked by the US administration. They meant it, and feared that Egyptian nationalist leader Abdel Nasser and the nationalist masses of the Middle East would then lean towards Moscow (which in part they did). Then there was a run on the pound, the British pound that had once been the embodiment of the gold standard during the fourth, fifth and sixth global colonial waves. Then there was British surrender and withdrawal. In Cyprus, Aden, Malaya, Iran, and Kenya, however, the traditional British and the neocolonial American empires would collaborate. What could be described as a decolonisation ‘counter-scramble’ followed the end of WWII. But formal independence is not necessarily the end of the colonial relation; decolonisation can be a process that establishes fourth wave style informal control, for example, a colonial changeover, or about genuine liberation, depending on the arrangements that replace the previous dispensation. The anticolonial and the neocolonial options had both been increasingly available in previous decades, and both crested during the two decades following WWII. Sometimes it was difficult to tell them apart. When independence is neocolonial, and it often was, it may even be considered in the context of a comprehensive global history of colonialism as a seventh DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-10
Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? 163 global colonial wave. The Philippines became formally independent in 1946, but the US retained overall control, including a few strategic military bases. Trade restrictions applied, preferential treatment for US capital applied (it was to be an exclusive relation). The local elites still looked to the US for their conspicuous consumption and for the education of their children. Was not such a relationship ‘colonial’? Could not this independence be better understood as yet another colonial ‘changeover’? Moreover, was decolonisation conceded or conquered (or both)? Somewhere, it was achieved by insurgent colonised collectives, sometimes politically, sometimes militarily. The British won the military conflict against the Mau Mau in Kenya, for example, but could not translate this victory into political capital. By 1956, the anticolonial rebellion had been crushed, a comprehensive tactical victory, but strategic defeat over Suez meant that the colony now was not really worth keeping. A similar dynamic can be seen operating in Algeria: news of French defeat at Dien Bien Phu had prompted a renewed anticolonial insurrection, but crushing the insurgency did not bring political gains to the colonialist French. The independences of Kenya and Algeria followed, even if many settlers decided to stay in the former, while not many settlers opted to remain in the latter. Somewhere decolonisation was conceded, even if always disgruntedly. ‘Decolonisation’ was often interpreted by colonial administrators to mean a type of imperially supported independence, a policy envisaging strict adherence to European models and priorities, possibly not even a changeover, but merely a type of imperially led reform. That decolonisation was an imperial project as well as an anticolonial demand should not be disregarded.2 And yet, it was in the ‘age of decolonisation’ after WWII that a demand for immediate independence took an explicitly anticolonial character. The imperial powers conceded independence where there were no strategic resources, no strategic implications, no communists, or socialist movements ready to take over, and no settlers (the preclusive occupations of the previous century meant that there actually were many such colonies, even in the context of the Cold War). But the imperial powers bitterly resisted decolonisation everywhere else. When they conceded defeat, they always tried to secure concessions.3 With the exception of the Soviet Union and its satellites, which remained a ‘world’ apart (i.e., the second), under a newly consolidated US hegemony, like in the case of the British hegemony of the era of free trade, what could be understood as the seventh global (neo)colonial wave was characterised by ostensibly inclusive relationships of domination. Even though the former colonising metropoles generally retained priority in their former colonies, especially France, the US exercised overarching control. Overall, the ‘first’ world still engaged in unequal relations with the ‘third’. The revolutionary potential envisaged in this nomenclature, a clear reference to the three ‘estates’ that had engaged in the French revolution, was never fulfilled. Capital itself was now doing the colonising again, which now was typically called ‘development’.4 Liberalism
164 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? had flourished globally in the era of free trade; neoliberalism would emerge globally after the era of decolonisation. The neoliberal economic doctrine had to contend with Keynesianism for a few decades but then emerged triumphant after crisis in the 1970s. Several distinct anticolonial traditions developed during the era of decolonisation that followed WWII. Postcolonial, anticolonial (or even neocolonial) modes of political action and rhetorics were developed: many referred to a shared experience of subjection and exploitation and theorised the common condition of the ‘wretched of the earth’ with a view to prosecuting the anticolonial struggle. Many also referred to a precolonial past, a past they actively sought to recover. In the case of the former tradition, it was argued that it was colonialism as a relationship that had produced the colonised masses; in the case of the latter tradition, the argument was that the masses had existed beyond and before the onset of colonial relations. The intellectual movement that hailed ‘negritude’ in the Francophone world epitomised the latter stance. The former tradition advocated a movement forward and away from colonial subjection; the latter tradition advocated a return (as a passage away from colonial subjection). The ‘pan’ movements of the era, ‘panafricanism’, ‘panarabism’, and ‘panislamism’, deployed these arguments in different styles and combinations. Many anticolonial thinkers used the language of Marxism, even if they developed it in very unorthodox ways.5 Marxism flourished away from the stifling constraints of Soviet ideology.6 The international conference that gathered at Bandung in newly independent Indonesia in 1955 was a crucial international event that defined the decolonising post-WWII ‘moment’. It was the first international congress where no European colonialist was even invited (three successor polities of former imperial powers, however, were: China, Turkey and Japan).7 Maoist China attended as a protagonist, and the conference denounced all imperialisms, that of the US and its allies and clients, and that of the Soviet Union and its ‘satellites’. It was an uncompromising anticolonial stance – and the final document approved at Bandung concluded explicitly that no foreign intervention was ever justified. But there were colonial continuities too at Bandung, and they should not be neglected: the new states that were represented there were typically successors to the colonial states. Indonesia as a state, the host state, for example, had been unified by the Dutch and had been ‘liberated’ by the Japanese occupiers during WWII before gaining independence. The Third World nationalists also typically spoke the European language they had inherited from their colonisers, and the delegates used English in their proceedings. The states they represented had also adopted the conventions of European diplomacy that were first agreed upon during negotiations surrounding the ‘peace of Westphalia’ concluded in 1648, right smack at the centre of Europe, at a time when the second colonial wave was in full swing. ‘Decolonisation’ itself had a colonialist past. The term had been used after the Paris conference of 1919 to describe how the colonialists who had lost
Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? 165 their imperial prerogatives were feeling. Germany had lost its empire, then had become in the eyes of disgruntled German nationalists a tribute-paying polity of sort, a polity in some crucial ways deprived of its sovereignty, a semicolony.8 Foreign troops were patrolling German streets at the end of the war, and some of these soldiers were from western Africa. Paranoid fears about sexual intercourse with European women had always been a crucial idée-fixe of colonial cultures and ideology: fear of rape, the rape of white women by allegedly oversexed colonized males, relentlessly shaped colonial ideas about gender, and both colonised men and white women had to be strictly controlled. But this was typically in the colonies, and Germany was at the centre of Europe –paranoid sentiments became widespread even if obviously unjustified. A similar loss of colonising sovereignty would follow Japanese surrender at the conclusion of WWII and the Allied occupation of the country that followed. This decolonisation was a shock, even if it was about the colonisers’ traumas. Moreover, beyond structures of feeling and in policy terms, ‘decolonisation’ was at times the policy agenda of reformist colonisers who aimed to shape and control processes with a view to enacting colonial changeovers rather than allowing a genuine anticolonial transformation. A lot was encompassed by this term. Then again, as we have seen, decolonisation also had a more ancient history. The ‘Black Legend’ of Spain was already in a way a denunciation of colonialism. Developed by Dutch propagandists and by dissenting Spaniards, and embraced by English Protestant would be colonisers, it argued that Spain would do to Europeans what the Spaniards were doing to the Amerindians. This was too a discourse developed by colonialists, for colonialist purposes, and a discourse more concerned with what may happen to colonialists than with the plight of the colonised. Hobson’s more recent denunciation of the ‘new’ imperialism was also more concerned with the consequences of colonial despotism for freedoms in the metropole than with colonial brutalities per se. On the contrary, when the Haitian leaders had adapted the language and demands of the French revolution, they had ostensibly adopted the rhetorics of their revolutionary colonisers but had subverted them for anticolonial purposes. The statesmen gathered at Bandung would have claimed to be ushering in a similar subversion, but many of the ethnic minorities who had only recently become directly subjected to the newly entrenched nationalist postcolonial rule would have begged to differ.9 It was going to get messy. That the colonisers had traditionally exploited and fostered ethnic cleavages, did not mean that they had not existed or that they had disappeared. *** Post WWII decolonisation happened in Asia first.10 It climaxed in Africa in the 1960s, and by the 1970s this global wave was almost over. The colonial empires established during the fifth global colonial wave had lasted no more than three generations, sometimes only two. It was thought that they would last forever. A shallow conquest following the Congress of Berlin,
166 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? a conquest especially shallow in districts distant from the colonial capital city of each colony, was followed by hurried decolonisation. 1960 was the ‘Year of Africa’ at the United Nations. Everywhere local circumstances interacted with general trends, and only the Portuguese would try to resist the decolonial/neocolonial tide (at the price of endangering the very cohesion of the metropolitan state). They defended their ‘unique’ colonial tradition and empire all the way to the mid-1970s. The claims of these late colonisers included being the ‘original’ colonisers and being uniquely ‘close’ to the colonised. In international terms, the decolonial/neocolonial wave had two institutional faces: partition and federation. Partition and federation were attempts to redraw the international borders that had been initially evoked by the imperialist ‘wizards’ of the fifth wave, and yet both presupposed their spells (both federation and partition recognise the borders of the original polities in order to amend them). There was a significant federalist moment in the colonial world during the era of decolonisation, and it had two faces: it could be an imperialist ploy to enable neocolonial control, or a liberationist move designed to ensure the viability and strength of the postcolonial polity. If a polity embedded in a federative structure could be controlled, diehard colonialist would maintain, the whole federation could be restrained. If colonialism divides, the federating nationalists would argue, anticolonialists must unite. There were imperially designed federations, even if they were proposed more often than actually established, and local particularisms were often successful. There was a (Persian) Gulf Federation, a West Indies Federation, an East Africa Federation, a Central Africa Federation, Malaysia initially federated with Singapore, and there were the supranational ‘Franco-union’ and the ‘Anglo-Commonwealth’. The fleeting United Arab Republic (uniting for a while Egypt and Syria), on the contrary, was an instance of a short-lived nominally anticolonial federation. Tanzania, likewise, was born out of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. But this was also the age of partitions. Partitions were proposed and enacted for Yemen, Korea, Palestine, Viet Nam, and India. In India, the partition of Bengal was originally enacted to further colonial control during the colonial era. Again, partition had two institutional faces, and it could be one result of an imperialist legacy of division, or the outcome of pragmatically accepting, if only temporarily, that only a fragment of the homeland could be liberated. The ideological ingredients of African decolonisation included: an anticolonial ideology, a particular version of unorthodox ‘Third World’ Marxism, and nationalism, a powerful mobilising force and a prophecy. Panafricanism as an ideology was premised on the notion that ‘Africa’ was not a degraded copy of an original European type. Africa and its ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ could be reclaimed, and so could history, sovereignty, and an independent destiny. The leaders of the anticolonial struggles were often remarkable scholars; future president of Senegal Léopold Senghor and
Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? 167 Aimé Césaire worked closely on negritude as an intellectual movement, and Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere translated Shakespeare into Kiswahili. Panafricanism needed to confront the problematic legacy of African collaboration with the slave trade. Thus, independent Ghana did not become Ashanti, while the French colony of Dahomey became Benin. North of the Sahara, Panislamism was a crucial ideology of decolonisation. It foreshadowed the prospect of uniting all Islamic peoples and consciousness, and advocated unity in the face of colonially enforced divisions. These were reform attempts aimed at modernising society; panislamism should not be confounded with fundamentalism, which became ascendant later, finally emerging in the late 1970s. Panislamism was a progressive and secularist ideology; it did not aim to return to an imagined and ‘uncorrupted’ Islamic past. The notion of ‘progress’ is crucial to an understanding of decolonisation. Césaire had insightfully noted that the colonised attempts to ‘move forward’, but it is the coloniser who ‘holds him back’. This was a complete reversal of traditional colonialist ideologies, which had typically argued that a modernising and civilising imperial presence was needed against backward and inherently unruly societies. This had been so both in racist Victorian-era evangelical or liberal understandings of ‘civilisation’ and their successors, and in equally racist arguments about ‘trusteeship’ during the sixth wave and, later, during the seventh, about ‘development’. The colonialists had proclaimed that they were in the business of developing the colonies and the colonised until they looked like civilised Europe and Europeans; with decolonisation, what was forward became backward. On the contrary, the various anticolonial ideological traditions argued for each country’s individual path to development. It was a notion underpinned by the idea that it was Europe that had underdeveloped Africa and the rest of the Third World, that ‘Europe’ and not ‘Africa’ was the main problem in a dysfunctional relation. ‘Development’ as a concept became a site of struggle. It was then and is now typically understood as a general template –one is either close or removed from an ideal type that looks like a metropole. ‘Development theory’ can thus be seen as a fundamental underpinning of a new global colonial wave, a wave sustained by the notion that the former colonisers (that is, the current neocolonisers) have a right to govern and steer a recalcitrant backward social body towards a (somewhat remote) future where the distinction between colonisers and colonised will finally disappear. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan proclaimed in February 1960 in South Africa that the ‘wind of change’ was unstoppable. Several factors contributed to the prevailing winds blowing towards decolonisation. If the African nationalists were more inclined to forcefully demand independence in the 1950s, the imperial powers were less inclined to resist all calls for independence. Decolonisation could thus be seen as a storm surge caused by powerful air currents. Besides, the ‘wind’ was blowing in the metropoles too, where new perspectives became increasingly influential in debates
168 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? surrounding colonial affairs after WWII. On the one hand, movements supporting decolonisation in western and eastern European countries were becoming more visible. The communist parties of western Europe were finally less ambiguous on this topic (they were in the minority, but now it was a vocal minority). On the other hand, the African economies were growing rapidly after WWII, and they could be seen to function independently. In many circles the idea that there was no real need for close and exclusive imperial supervision of the African economies became widely held. These economies could be effectively supervised from the outside, it was argued; profits could be sustained and directed northward without expensive colonial governors, bureaucracies, and patronage. In other words, according to this current of opinion, colonialism had fulfilled its role: the colonial economies had been set up and had been integrated within international markets. Now the ‘silent compulsion’ of international trade and capital flows could replace violent colonial routines. In this sense it was a rehearsal of the arguments of the political economists and the free traders against the advocates of mercantilism (see Chapter 5). The post- war western European colonial powers also desperately needed the cash that would normally be spent in running their colonial establishments. The extra cash that would be needed to seriously contemplate repressing militarily the anticolonial insurgencies that were active, and those that were forecasted, was simply not there. Anticolonial repression had always been costly, but now it was especially expensive, economically and politically. The example of post-war Netherlands, withdrawing (even if reluctantly) from empire in 1949, even though the many ‘police operations’ it had mounted against the Indonesian nationalists had been invariably proclaimed operational successes, and then enjoying unprecedented economic growth, informed European debates pertaining to colonialism. Many in France were increasingly sceptical about the absolute need to retain Algeria at all costs … Change was underway in Africa anyway, irrevocably upsetting the world colonialism had built. The two world wars had exploded the myth of European invincibility. The only way Europe could fight its wars was by enlisting, training, and arming African manpower. Demobilised Africans were again crucial catalysts for political change. The Great Depression had already exploded the myth of the white man’s inherently superior managing and organisational capacity: the collapse of international trade that followed the crash of 1929 had especially depressed the African economies. Imperial stewardship had produced vulnerable economies, colonies need international trade relatively more than any other polity, and capitalist and neocolonial development was no longer the only type of development available. The example of the planned socialist economies, of Nehruvian India and the Soviet Union, and their capacity to produce development and modernisation was looked at with increasing interest. Change was everywhere: in the political structures of the colonies (new political parties, unions, professional associations, and chambers of commerce), in the economic structures
Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? 169 (an incipient industrialisation, a salaried workforce, a money economy, new demands for goods and services), in cultural institutions (new indigenous forms of Christianity and new opportunities for education), and then there was massive and unprecedented urbanisation, transport, and electrification. Change was happening both because of colonialism’s successes in developing the African economies and because of its failures in managing them. Colonialism was actively producing its own demise. WWII was the turning point. Promises had again to be made to ensure the colonised’s support for the war effort. But this time they were not vague promises uttered by unrepentant colonisers, this time they were actual ‘I- owe-yous’ underwritten by the new imperial hegemon. In 1941, the Atlantic Charter had been made public in its entirety by the Americans against Winston Churchill’s wishes (the British did not have a real say, as the US was footing the war bill).11 The document stated explicitly the right of all peoples to self-determination. It stated that a right to independence was inherent and non-negotiable. A similar document set the ground for decolonisation in the French empire. In 1944 Charles de Gaulle had gathered colonial representatives, diplomats, and governors in Brazzaville, in the French Congo, and had proclaimed that the old empire was finished, and that a new polity would follow, a polity that would not ostensibly differentiate between colony and metropole: the French Union (Union Française). French citizenship would be accorded to all, and the colonies would also elect and send representatives to the parliament in Paris.12 The project was influential but remained on paper and the French lost most of their empire in succeeding years.13 The Spaniards had evoked a similar arrangement in the constitution of 1812. They could not save their empire either. *** Decolonisation in Africa came north of the Sahara first. It had arrived even earlier in the Middle East, a region geographically and politically contiguous to it. The southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea had had a long history of non-colonial interaction with the northern shore, and colonialism had been only relatively recently introduced to north Africa through a mix of stealth and brutal imposition. Algeria was the exception, colonial rule there had been established already in 1830 through a mix of stealth and brutal imposition. Islamic reform movements had been active in the region since the later decades of the nineteenth century, and the disaggregation of the Ottoman empire in the aftermath of WWI had had two major consequences. Firstly, one imperial master had gone, and decolonisation piggybacks on imperial demise, and, secondly, Ataturk’s Turkey had demonstrated that effective modernising reforms could be introduced by Indigenous forces. This experience demonstrated that there was no need for European supervision. Finally, the Mandates in the Middle East (and North Africa has a direct link to the Middle East, even if there were no Mandates there) carried an explicit promise of ultimate independence.
170 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? Egypt is crucial to the history of decolonisation: it had an ancient and easily reclaimable history, and was formally independent already in 1922. Besides in 1882 it had been the place where the ‘new’ imperialism had become a reality, and even earlier, the site of Napoleon’s failed expedition, which had nonetheless been crucial in establishing Orientalist cultural traditions that would support the whole colonialist enterprise.14 The British, however, had not left and British forces were permanently stationed in the Suez Canal Zone. In the 1930s, a triangular political dynamic had developed, comprising of the British, the nationalists, and the king allied with the oligarchs. The British could play one party against the other. Independence had been conceded, but obviously not true independence. A demand for substantive independence eventually became pressing. In 1952 there was a military takeover. A military officer, Gamal Abdel Nasser, eventually emerged as the leader of local nationalist forces. Nasser justified the coup by proclaiming the need to achieve true independence under exceptional circumstances, including the military defeat of 1948 against Israel. 1956 was the moment the tide really turned for colonial empire: an expedition supported by a consortium of old imperialists and local collaborators was facing an ultimatum issued by the new superpowers. This coalition had to withdraw. The US was now calling the shots in the region –the outcome of the Suez crisis was a defeat of empire and a colonial changeover at once. Ethiopia is also crucial to the history of decolonisation. WWII had seen the first Indigenous-led demise of a colonial empire –the Italian army in eastern Africa was quickly isolated and forced to surrender. A lot was resting on Ethiopia as far as international anticolonial struggles and opinion were concerned. The followers of the Rastafarian religion that developed in Jamaica even saw the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as Christ’s second coming. The emperor was reinstated after a successful war that was also an anticolonial war of liberation. The British had led the operations, but could not prevent his return to Addis Ababa. Once a colonial power had been militarily defeated, it would be difficult to stop the decolonising tide from spilling over. Somalia was not awarded immediate independence after WWII, but the Trusteeship the Italians received in 1950 was radically different from its prewar Mandate predecessors: it had a clearly stated expiry date. Somalia would become independent in 1960, and its future independence was not linked to performance. There was no incentive in dragging colonialist feet. At Setif, Algeria in 1945 the French lost control. Madagascar witnessed another senseless colonial massacre, and the French lost control again. In a decolonising age, even defeating your opponents and maintaining the appearance of control could not be translated into ultimate political victory. These and many more colonialist atrocities demonstrated the colonisers’ inability to embrace change. Then Algeria became a war zone. The nationalist insurgency forced the French state to mobilise up to half a million soldiers, and military victory against the insurgents was achieved at a huge
Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? 171 price. It was an effort that could also count on a million settlers and on a host of local collaborators. Indeed, rather than colonialist defeat, for France the Algerian war was ultimately an unsustainable ‘success’: democratic freedoms in the metropole had to be suspended, and many on the Left and on the Right in the metropole were eventually questioning whether it was all worth it. Meanwhile, the settlers were restive and destabilising the very institutions of the state. Coups in 1958 and in 1960 in Algiers eventually prompted President de Gaulle’s decision to cut the Gordian knot, cut losses, and grant independence in 1962. The colonies of Western Africa achieved independence shortly after, but before the colonies of east and southern Africa. The region had had 500 years of interaction with the global economy. The region also enjoyed fast economic development after WWII, and there was a politically active class of educated Africans. The local nationalists maintained links with the African diasporas in the US and in the Caribbean, and it was in the context of these anticolonial links that Panafricanism developed as an intellectual and political movement. ‘Troubles’ (i.e., strikes and ‘rioting’) in the Gold Coast in 1948, in concomitance with Indian and Pakistani independence and war in Palestine, put the British authorities in a situation in which they could not commit to repression. A rapid devolution of power followed: nationalist leader Kwame Nkrumah was released from prison and his party was allowed to participate in elections. Nkrumah won in a landslide and there was no way afterwards to reverse or stall the devolution process. In 1957 Ghana became independent. The other west African colonies demanded rapid devolutions too. Sierra Leone and Nigeria became independent shortly afterwards. In Nigeria matters were complicated by the colony’s division between Islamic north and Christian south, so a federal solution was devised and implemented, even if it did not work as planned and civil war in Biafra followed. Independence followed by civil war would be a pattern repeated elsewhere. Even the miniscule Gambia, a former British colony entirely surrounded by Senegal, became independent. Returned to power in 1958, de Gaulle proposed that a French ‘community’ (Communauté française) be established. It was a proposal that envisaged self- determination and unity within a French-speaking polity, ostensibly a good deal, promising independence and external support. Referenda were called in all the French colonies and they all approved this neocolonial arrangement, with the exception of Guinea. Local conditions and the ascendancy of local anticolonial leader Ahmed Sékou Touré ensured that the referendum there was rejected. The French reacted angrily. They wanted to send a warning and even demanded that their African allies in the region (especially Gabon and the Ivory Coast) break relations with independent Guinea, which they did. Everyone expected Guinea to fail and to become the first postcolonial failed state. The expectation was that the institutions of the state would collapse once deprived of European support, expertise and supervision, and loans, and access to markets. However, Guinea survived, receiving the help
172 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? of eastern European communist countries. The imperialist warning was thus turned on its head and it became a warning for the imperialists: in a brave new decolonising world there were alternatives. Should the French or anyone else withdraw support in similar circumstances, someone else would step in. The Americans were not impressed. If Guinea survived the neocolonialist blockade, the successor state to the Belgian Congo did not. This was also a crucial moment in the history of neocolonialism and decolonisation: the Belgian colonisers had decided to demonstrate that they were still indispensable. The Congo was not ready for independence, but the colonialists decided on purpose to proceed anyway. There were no political parties, no national infrastructure and no national leadership, not even a sizeable class of university educated Africans. It was this institutional deficit that would require the Belgians to stay on after independence, they believed. The Belgian king gave a speech and independence was hastily declared. Patrice Lumumba became Prime Minister. Soldiers in the army rebelled, and there were atrocities. It was the collapse of the postcolonial state, a pattern that would be repeated elsewhere. 70,000 Belgian citizens were airlifted out of the country. Lumumba was assassinated, and the Americans stepped in to secure a strategic country (they did not like that Lumumba could talk with the Russians). Army leader Mobutu Sese Seko would later consolidate his grip on power and rein in the Katanga secessionists. The Congo would then become Zaire until the 1990s, but it is now the Democratic Republic of Congo again. Its history would epitomise many of the excesses and failures of the African postcolonial and neocolonial state. Independence would eventually be declared in eastern and in southern Africa, in the 1960s and in the 1970s respectively. Namibia’s independence came even later, in the late 1980s. South Africa’s colonial regime would only be discontinued in the 1990s. But by then, overall, decolonisation had turned globally into neocolonialism. The two waves had proceeded side by side and had in important ways travelled in similar directions, but the neocolonial wave eventually took over. Decolonisation ended globally in a succession of ‘colonial changeovers’. Independence did not undo colonialism. Frantz Fanon had warned against ‘native colonialism’, the ultimate colonial ‘changeover’ (even if he did not use the term), where formerly colonised elites take charge but do not undo colonialism. Nkrumah had written a book denouncing neocolonialism.15 There had been many attempts to break the neocolonial mould: revolutionary Tanzania in the 1960s, revolutionary Ethiopia and Libya in the 1970s, and Thomas Sankara’s Burkina Faso in the 1980s. After the successful anticolonial insurgencies and victory in the protracted civil wars, Guinea Bissau, Angola and Mozambique also tried. Even when oil revenues could have made a difference, there were mixed results. But the Cubans at Cuito Cuanavale, in southern Angola, did make a difference in the 1980s, and the apartheid South African army was defeated there together with their local allies. The Cuban presence in southern Angola
Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? 173 was an example of genuine anticolonial solidarity. Eventually, the South African apartheid regime had to give up. During the Cold War, many of the foreign interventions in what was the ‘Third World’ and would become the Global South had been distinctly colonial: in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s; in the Congo, which was a source of uranium so important that its significance was kept secret for decades, and in Viet Nam in the 1960s; in Angola, and in many other locales in the 1970s; and in Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and Afghanistan in the 1980s. For all these former colonies or semicolonies, crafting an autonomous political course independent of superpower politics became impossible. Paradoxically, superpower imperialism during the Cold War was one result of the rapid disintegration of the traditional colonial empires of the western European countries. Their collapse had created the space in which the superpowers operated and competed; and a global wave of Cold War interventions followed the relatively abrupt crashing of the sixth global colonial wave. This phenomenon, whereby one global colonial wave benefits from the vacuum resulting from the ebbing of the previous one, was not unprecedented, as we have seen. But at least the postcolonial successor states would be viable states during the Cold War. The superpowers competed with each other, but never destroyed the postcolonial states they took control of in collaboration with local elites, or with socialist movements, or with left wing military officers. Under Cold War conditions, the state was the prize of superpower competition; after the Cold War was over, however, there was no longer a particular need to ensure the viability of the postcolonial state. Beginning in the 1990s, some postcolonies began failing. The state-building spree that had followed agreement on the principle of ‘effective occupation’ at Berlin in 1884–1885, and the state re-building spree that followed decolonisation, were then followed by an epidemic of state failures. Economic independence had been most elusive. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank operated during the Cold War and afterwards in ways similar to the way the Anglo-French dominated Ottoman Public Debt Commission had operated in the nineteenth century. They demanded and demand that countries accept limitations to their sovereignty and that economic policy be decided by foreigners who always remained and remain unaccountable to local interests. To be eligible for loans and financial help, the former colonies had and have to accept becoming protectorates of sorts, to renounce subsidising their producers, and to open their markets to goods manufactured elsewhere. A relinquishment of the ability to control taxation and trade policy, as we have seen, is a typical marker of colonial subjection. The neocolonial global wave propounded an inclusive mode of colonial domination, a model in which different interests and multilateral agencies agreed to share the responsibility for the maintenance of localised colonial regimes. And it did not and does not matter, really, that the independent countries themselves were and are formally asking the IMF, the World Bank, or other agencies to intervene. They have little choice. Besides,
174 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? a local ruler willing to sign a treaty sanctioning their ‘protected’ status was always at hand during the age of the ‘new’ imperialism ... Then again, the free trade era of inclusive neoliberal colonialism may now be at an end and may be soon followed by a neomercantilist phase. Western, Chinese and other interests are currently drawing their respective exclusive spheres of influence in Africa and elsewhere. The Russians and Turkey, for example, have intervened in the Libyan civil war, and so have several Gulf monarchies and former colonising powers. The Chinese have stepped in and are especially active in large parts of Africa. Could these influences be described as ‘colonial’? Many African countries now are severely indebted to Chinese concerns. The pendulum may be swinging indeed. After all, Chinese Admiral Zheng He’s fleets had reached Africa several times in the fifteenth century ...
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Chapter 9 –Further Resources 1) Guinea Stamp Issue, circa 1961
Figure 9.1 Guinea Stamp Issue, circa 1961 © Sergey Nezhinkiy/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: the postcolonial currency takes the name of the colonial currency, even if not its numerical value. The successor states printed postal stamps as early as they could. As well as offering the opportunity to convey meaningful images and symbols, stamps are a manifestation of sovereignty because through international mail services they literally represent the sovereign outside of its territorial bounds (this is why there often is a sovereign printed on stamps). One result of international postal conventions is that the postal services run by other sovereigns must recognise stamps and deliver the mail they are attached to. Stamps are evidence of a state’s recognition because these arrangements are reciprocal. Mail is delivered in a specific territory –and stamps are receipts for payments. Thus, the stamp is a marker of an exclusive fiscal ability and territorial reach, a crucial prerogative of all sovereign states, including the postcolonies. Lumumba is here represented in Western dress. How different this is from Gandhi’s homespun cloth (see Resource 3, Chapter 5 above)!
176 Decolonisation: Conceded or Conquered? That was international anticolonialism in an old-new dress, this is international anticolonialism in someone else’s dress … and yet they were both assassinated. Moreover, this stamp uses the language of the former colonial masters: French. In this instance, a murdered anticolonial nationalist could be celebrated by another African country while the decolonisation he had defended was being betrayed by a regime that was colluding with his assassins … 2) Movie for discussion: Lumumba (2000) Note: This movie is about a failing decolonisation. Question: Who are the colonialists in this movie? Who are the anticolonialists? 3) Chapter 9 –Main Points 1) Decolonisation peaked after WWII, but there is also a subterranean history of decolonisation that reaches back at least to the 1790s. 2) Decolonisation could be conceptualised as a storm surge, relatively rapid and aided by a strong ‘wind of change’. In the 1960s, it became a counter-scramble, a mirror image of the imperial scramble of the later decades of the nineteenth century. Now the world seems tired of decolonisation. 3) There were two main global currents contributing to the era of decolonisation: a neocolonial and an anticolonial one. The former has now largely subsumed the latter. 4) The colonisers were at times willing to concede independence. At times –especially where strategic considerations were involved and settler communities present –they fought bitter anticolonial wars. 5) There were partitions and federations, but generally the new independent states were successor states. The colonial state was often reincarnated in the postcolonial state –it was often a changeover. Decolonial aspirations were thus undermined. 6) In 1955 there was an anticolonial international conference at Bandung, Indonesia. It denounced all imperialisms, but spoke the language and adopted the diplomatic conventions of the colonisers. 7) Decolonisation could often be described as a colonial changeover, and in many respects neocolonial circumstances were not that different from colonial ones. As such, decolonisation could be seen as the seventh global colonial wave.
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Notes 1 John Darwin, Britain and Decolonisation: The Retreat from Empire in the Post- War World, London, Macmillan, 1988. 2 See W. M. Roger Louis, Ronald Robinson, ‘The Imperialism of Decolonization’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 22, 3, 1994, pp. 462–511. 3 A. G. Hopkins, ‘Rethinking Decolonization’, Past & Present, 200, 2008, pp. 211–247. 4 Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2011. 5 On the ‘Black Radical Tradition’, see Robinson, Black Marxism. 6 See Gary Wilder, Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2015; Leslie James, George Padmore and Decolonization from Below: Pan-Africanism, the Cold War, and the End of Empire, Houndmills, Palgrave, 2014; Michele Louro, Comrades Against Imperialism: Nehru, India and Interwar Internationalism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018. 7 It was generally believed that they had left their imperial past behind, even if this assessment looks premature now. By the first decades of the twenty-first century, all these polities’ foreign policies could be seen as replicating those of their imperial predecessors. 8 Ward, ‘The European Provenance of Decolonization’. 9 Christopher J. Lee (ed.), Making a World after Empire: The Bandung Moment and Its Political Afterlives, Athens, OH, Ohio University Press, 2019. 10 John Gallagher, ‘Nationalisms and the Crisis of Empire, 1919–1922’, Modern Asian Studies, 15, 3, 1981, pp. 355 –368. 11 See Douglas Brinkley, David Facey- Crowther (eds), The Atlantic Charter, Houndmills, Palgrave, 1994. 12 Eric Jennings, Free French Africa in World War II: The African Resistance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015. 13 Frederick Cooper, Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2014. 14 Edward Said, Orientalism, New York, Pantheon, 1978. 15 Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd., London, 1965.
Conclusion Colonial Legacies –Underdevelopment and Postcolonial Violence
Finding against the Yorta Yorta Australian Aboriginal claimants, Justice Olney concluded in 1998 that the ‘tide of history’ had ‘washed away’ their native title.1 Speaking to the National Congress of American Indians on the occasion of the 2021 Columbus Day federal holiday, and striking a different tone, even if deploying the same metaphor, US Vice-President Kamala Harris decried the ‘wave of devastation for tribal nations’ that ‘the voyage of the European explorers’ had ushered in.2 This book has suggested that colonial history could be heuristically narrated as a succession of global colonial waves, not a single tide. Olney’s use of the metaphor implies that the tide ebbed and flowed. And yet, while the metaphorical structure makes sense, his narrative, a story about the rise and fall of empire, may be inappropriate. First, because native title and sovereignty survive, and second because when it comes to violent relationships defined by displacement the waves are ongoing. Harris’ use of the metaphor, and her emphasis on the present need to address a ‘shameful’ history are more convincing. We live in an inherently unequal world, and it is in many ways becoming more and more unequal. This is why reflecting on the global history of colonialism in the longue durée is still important. But if colonialism as a relationship endures, if unequal relationships defined by displacements inform the global present, the legacies of colonialism, the colonial past that impinges on the present, are also everywhere globally, which is not surprising, considering that, as we have seen, colonialism was a genuinely global phenomenon, and that colonial relationships have shaped in one way or another the history of pretty much everywhere. We live in a global ‘colonial present’ (and a global ‘settler colonial present’ too).3 Colonialism shapes international relations and relations within nations, and colonially defined identities remain a foundational feature of postcolonies and postmetropoles alike.4 After 2003 and the invasion of Iraq, some observers talked again about an ‘American Empire’ (American imperialism was certainly not a new topic).5 Could the invasion of Iraq be seen as yet another instance of a mode of colonial expansion prompted by a crisis of hegemony? Colonialism in crisis did prompt accelerations in the past, as we have seen, and the US hegemony is indeed in crisis. Irrespectively, if DOI: 10.4324/9781003050599-11
Conclusion 179 colonialism proceeds by waves, the current dispensation may be understood as a colonial surge that was initially announced by a ‘Desert Storm’. A global map of international crisis reflects the legacies of a myriad colonial histories. Beginning with the minuscule and remote (remote from the colonially decided-upon ‘zero’ meridian, which is arbitrarily centered in a good suburb of London) and moving towards the current imperial centre (in ‘heliotropic’ fashion, as empire always did in nineteenth century renditions of empire), we can briefly outline the global legacies of colonialism. In the Pacific, where the decolonising wave arrived last, the legacies of colonialism are everywhere. Pitcairn is an unsustainable dependency, the smallest of all. In 2004, a trial for sexual offences committed by a third of the island’s male population raised interesting questions about colonialism. The trial was challenged by many islanders, who claimed that the island could not be considered a colony, and that the UK lacked judicial authority there. Their legal counsel argued that the Bounty’s mutineers, the ancestors of most of the island’s current residents, had declared their independence in 1790 and renounced their British citizenship. They had burned the ship to make this obvious. Besides, the UK has never even formally appraised the islanders of its decision to annex the island. The trial was supervised by New Zealand judges attending virtually from New Zealand. They were appointed by some bureaucrat in London. The men were found guilty. Fiji’s stubborn ethnic divisions are a legacy of its history as a colonial laboratory of indirect rule and as a sugar-producing dependency. In Fiji we encounter in the early twenty-first century the paradox of a ‘democratic agenda’ that was pursued dictatorially by a military leader who, like Nasser in Egypt, seized power in opposition to aristocratic concerns, one of the many traditional aristocracies crafted by colonial indirect rule. New Caledonia and French Polynesia are colonial dependencies facing the prospect of their possible future independence. The Solomon Islands were at one point a failed state, then what could be described as a protectorate during the Australian intervention (2003–2017). Now they are the object of opposing imperialist ambitions, after China’s decision to increase its presence there. Bougainville will be independent. Papua New Guinea, after all, had coalesced in the first place as a collection of separate colonial dependencies. The country can indeed be seen as a neocolonial dependency: its budget crucially depends on Australian ‘grants’, and Australia runs in its sovereign territory Guantanamo-style extraterritorial facilities it uses to detain refugees. The borders between ‘colonial administration’ and ‘foreign aid’ were always blurred, and in this instance have remained so.6 Irian Jaya is in many ways a settler colony, an instance of a former colonised power imposing its own imperialism. East Timor was a colony until 1975, then briefly independent, then again a colony, after what could be described as a colonial changeover, even if rule from Lisbon was more benign than rule from Jakarta. Then it was an Australian protectorate after international intervention. It was then subjected to a classic instance of imperial bullying
180 Conclusion by Australia with regards to the definition of its southern maritime borders. Political instability in many parts of Asia results from contradictions arising from distinctly colonial histories. The ongoing conflict in the southern Philippines has a colonial history. The origin of ‘Moro’ as a collective identifier is especially telling: the Moros of the southern Philippines, after all, take their name from the unsurrendered Moors of southern Spain during the Reconquista. Thailand has been labelled a ‘crypto-colony’, and recent political strife opposing ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ shirts, a crisis that culminated in 2008, can be understood with reference to a history of colonial immigration. Besides, Thailand is dealing, like many of its neighbours, with several indigenous insurgencies, an instance of a former semicolonised power imposing its own imperialism.7 The tensions still pitting Korea and Japan are a legacy of an unresolved and painful colonial past. Taiwan is a polity that coalesced from a succession of distinct colonial waves: Dutch, imperial Chinese, Japanese, and then Nationalist. Now it is recognising its Indigenous populations like other settler societies are doing, as it faces the prospect of reincorporation within one of the polities that at one time controlled the island.8 Similarly, tensions surrounding Hong Kong’s special status cannot be understood without understanding the city’s history as a tiny colony attached to a massive semicolony. Ironically, many in the city are now expressing a sort of colonial nostalgia: those who resent mainland China’s impositions because they see British colonial rule as relatively more benign than the current regime, and those in the city’s administration because the colonial authorities could more easily repress dissent without legal constraints or international or public scrutiny (tellingly, the authorities reinstated in 2019 some colonial era regulations to deal with dissidents). In the wider region, the rise of China in recent decades is in the opinion of its leadership undoing what colonialism and imperialism had done in recent centuries … Fraught Indo-Pakistani tensions are one result of colonial partition, the question of Kashmir remains unresolved since before the moment of decolonisation, while Afghanistan is still the ‘graveyard of empires’. In 2021 it added a neocolonial empire under its belt, but in previous decades it had augmented its collection by defeating an ‘anti-imperialist’ one. Then the postcolonial Middle East, where Israel is a colonial state with a colonial history and a colonial present, but where Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Gulf states are also polities fundamentally shaped by their history of colonial subjection. Their borders, and their ethnic makeups were shaped by colonial authorities before neocolonial relationships became entrenched in the second half of the twentieth century. The age of decolonisation did not undo this imprinting, and the region’s ruling royal families cut colonial deals with the imperial hegemons of the day, and are cutting new ones in the present. A few ruling princes proclaimed a peace with Israel, the Abraham Accords in 2020. This was a peace that was already there, offered
Conclusion 181 in exchange for a halt to formalising a colonial annexation that has already happened. The Occupied Palestinian Territory are currently run through a mix of indirect rule by settlers and indirect rule by way of the subordinate incorporation of a collaborationist elite. Both modes of colonial domination are not new, as we have seen. Yemen is a postcolonial disaster zone. The British had partitioned the country to retain control of a strategic harbour on the way to India, and now the United Arab Emirates is contributing to repartitioning it for the same purpose after the failure of the Saudi-led intervention that began in 2015. Somalia, just across the water, remains a failed state. The oil supplies of the world are shipped through disaster zones. Meanwhile Turkey is currently pursuing a ‘neo-Ottoman’ imperial agenda in Syria and in Libya ... A long, long history of civil wars and ethnic conflict characterises the African continent following decolonisation, even if war at times preceded independence. Postcolonial civil wars and political strife have affected (in alphabetical order) Algeria, Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo/Zaire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Western Sahara, and Zimbabwe (this is a conservative list, as civil conflict is often hard to define). Post-apartheid South Africa did not witness widespread civil unrest, but whether it can be considered a postcolonial success story depends on how one rates the original challenges of establishing a new regime after apartheid was discontinued. Many South Africans are dissatisfied with institutional efforts so far to undo the legacies of apartheid and racial oppression. The political involution of neighbouring Zimbabwe remains a warning. In the 1990s Robert Mugabe’s regime attempted to enact an ostensibly anticolonial agenda: to redistribute land. It was no longer a brave new decolonising world, and the regime’s corruption and despotism combined with the active boycott of the international financial institutions, effectively turned the country into another disaster zone. There is something profoundly wrong with the postcolonial African state: kleptocracy, chronic instability, and ethnic and communal divisions characterise the operation of what has been defined as the ‘patrimonial state’. Electoral processes routinely foster instability and conflict rather than social cohesion and accountability. Understanding the ways multiple colonial legacies impinge on Africa’s present remains imperative. Mahmood Mamdani has identified the legacies of indirect colonial rule as particularly deleterious. Mamdani pointed out that the colonially inherited distinction between ‘settler’ and ‘native’ has been embraced and reinforced by many postcolonial regimes, a stance that led to the reproduction of ethnic conflict.9 In the Americas, the political struggles that engulf many countries are struggles between collectives that were and are shaped by recognisably colonial relations. There is a ‘colour line’ at work.10 The ‘masses’ that supported
182 Conclusion Brazil’s coup in 2016 against its democratically elected president were racially defined. Bolivia’s revolution was an Indigenous/indigenista revolution. It claimed to be anticolonial, and its temporary undoing in 2019 was in many ways a racial coup. Similar logics mediated by local circumstances operate in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. Chile is involved in a process of Indigenous recognition. Mexico’s Zapatista insurgency was an Indigenous movement. It was launched in 1992, on the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the first global colonial wave. Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America was published in 1971, but this anticolonialist text had a remarkable afterlife. Venezuelan revolutionary and late president Hugo Chavez, who insisted on the specifically anticolonial nature of the revolution he was leading as a fulfilment of the Bolivarian revolution (i.e., another anticolonial revolution), donated a copy to US president Barack Obama in 2009.11 Cuba is currently subjected to an economic blockade, and a tiny part of its sovereign territory is under colonial occupation. Blockades are a colonial device, as they set up monopolies for the competitors trading in targeted commodities. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, an economy built for exports that had remained export-oriented had to face a colonialist adversary wielding a typically colonialist weapon. Its resistance can be seen as an anticolonial act. Puerto Rico remains a colony and is being treated as one. Then there are the settler societies of the world, a group of nations sometimes referred to as CANZAUS, the ‘neo-Europes’ that emerged out of the third global colonial wave, each dealing with Indigenous demands for substantive sovereignty, each approaching in one way or another a ‘politics of recognition’, each issuing in recent years more or less heartfelt official apologies, and each embarking on officially endorsed ‘reconciliation’ processes.12 The 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples briefly brought this settler colonial international together, and the CANZAUS nations were the only ones refusing to endorse it. Afterwards, they have all changed course, probably because they realised that the Declaration did not mean much in practice, even if symbolically it remains a significant document. But what about movements for Indigenous ‘resurgence’, the #NODAPL movement that peaked in 2016, for example, when Indigenous activists and allies protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the many Indigenous-led struggles against further dispossession and environmental degradation that followed? Are they not obviously anticolonial struggles? Finally, there is Europe, the epicentre of the succeeding global colonial waves we have surveyed in this book (the first six, actually; the seventh, the neocolonial one, was centered in Washington, DC). Many of its contemporary contradictions, and many of its postwar contradictions too, have and had a recognisably colonial origin, and ‘souveranist’ and populist conspiracy theories about an alleged ‘Great Replacement’ and ‘reverse colonisation’ fail to see that an unequal relationship premised on displacement persists, whether
Conclusion 183 it is the coloniser who moves to the colony and rules, and whether it is the colonised that moves to the metropole and remains subjected.13 *** Each global colonial wave created facts on the ground, sometimes entire societies. Contemporary struggles are drawing attention to the need to undo these legacies. This is a history book, but it is present-oriented history: first wave colonialism resulted in contemporary creole states encompassing profound racial divides; second wave colonialism produced fraught racial relations in many countries; third wave colonialism is ongoing in the settler societies; fourth wave colonialism is alive and kicking in ubiquitous relationships of unequal international exchange; fifth wave colonialism is recognisable in surviving and re-emerging exclusive ‘spheres’ of influence; ongoing sixth wave colonialism can be observed today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and neocolonial seventh wave colonialism affects most of the contemporary Global South. This is a general outline, and each global colonial wave invested different regions and contexts in complex and uneven ways, while the waves interacted, often overlapped, and at times competed. Colonialism created the borders of the modern postcolonial territorial polities and the borders separating the developed global North from the ‘developing’ Global South. These borders are being challenged; they always were. The distinction between metropole and colony, a distinction that fundamentally defines the colonial relation is undermined today, for example, by global phenomena like migration. It always was a porous line, but the migratory flows reaching Europe, a flow that became a tide in 2015 during the peak of the Syrian civil war, have prompted a global crisis. These flows are an explicit challenge to the post-metropole/postcolony distinction. Flows of tradeable commodities were how colonialism became global, but some of these trades were in humans, and now new human flows are threatening a ‘stability’ that can be conceived as such only if one deliberately declines to consider that a colonial or neocolonial relation involves by definition coloniser and colonised, neocoloniser and neocolonised, and postmetropole and postcolony. Neither can be genuinely appraised in isolation from the other. The postcolonial condition is dysfunctional. Not many postcolonies did well economically or politically after independence. Modernization and development did not happen for the postcolonial economies. Informal empire and dependency became at one point the key explanations for chronic underdevelopment after independence.14 Then again, the new dispensation may not even be postcolonial, that is, affected by colonial legacies or neocolonial; it could be better described as recolonial. A return to direct forms of external control is advocated in many quarters these days, and Third World Quarterly, a prestigious scholarly journal, even recently published (and then retracted) an article that explicitly advocated the creation of colonies to solve today’s chronic problems in the Global South.15 Besides, we
184 Conclusion should not forget that the contemporary settler societies are colonial societies, and that there still are many actual colonial enclaves dotting the map. Ceuta and Melilla, for example, are Spanish-controlled enclaves in Africa, and there was debate at the European Parliament as to whether Gibraltar should be named a colony. There are many French DOMs and TOMs, overseas departments and overseas territories, and many US direct dependencies in the Caribbean and the Pacific.16 And then there is a global network of military bases where foreign personnel enjoy extraterritorial status. Today’s Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) resemble the unequal treaties of the fourth global colonial wave –the US had negotiated more than one hundred in 2012, even though we don’t know the exact number and many remain classified.17 The many tax havens where the global rich stash their cash and avoid taxation are also colonial formations. Sometimes they are actual colonies, like many of the British Overseas Territories that have stalled on the road towards actual independence (the Cayman Islands come to mind, they have become one of the world’s largest international financial centres). In these locations, money can move in and out undisturbed by legal oversight. They are places located somewhere else where one can do business in ways that would not be admissible where they reside (these are, in other words, locations primarily characterised by displacement and the transfer of the profits arising from the exploitation of unequal relations). It is not only an analogy; today’s ‘tax havens’ have a neocolonising history. We now know that they were crucial to facilitating the global transition whereby the sixth global colonial wave morphed into the seventh one, when settlers, businessmen, and colonial officials hastily liquidated their assets in the economies that were to be decolonised and moved capital not to metropolitan centres, but to the tax heavens that were being instituted and rapidly expanding in the 1950s and 1960s. This money was afterwards brought back to postcolonial developing countries as foreign ‘investments’ in ways that compromised the independence of the newly independent nations. Profits were thus accounted as accruing in the tax havens and not in the developing countries the money had originated from. The new nations could not rely on badly needed revenue.18 The ‘special’ economic zones of eastern Asia and elsewhere in the previously colonised or semicolonised world also resemble the colonial enclaves and ‘factories’ of the past.19 The Export Processing Zones (EPZ) promoted for decades by the World Bank and the UN for developing countries, are areas defined by the localised suspension of normal legal regimes, and locations fundamentally characterised by displacement and inequality. Foreign investment is attracted by offering tax holidays and cheap labour; they are new phenomena, but the continuities with the colonial past should be emphasised, because the colonial relation was indeed premised on investing ‘offshore’ (a spatial category defined by ‘blue water’), and on taking advantage of tax exemptions and cheap labour, labour that could be imported
Conclusion 185 to selected locations if needed, and then superexploited, very much like labour is currently imported and superexploited in the EPZs. Weren’t the slave traders of the British Royal Africa Company not also ‘investing’ their capital in Africa? Colonialism returns, and we can think of a global colonial backflow or reflux, a colonial rip. Yet another series of colonial changeovers, really. A veritable ‘rush’ to use palm oil in food and cosmetics and in the manufacture of many, many other consumables began in the 1990s. The international trade of this commodity is very similar to the trades in colonial commodities that sustained colonialism in previous eras. Global demand for palm oil is fuelling deforestation and environmental degradation globally, and whether palm oil production benefits the producers or their countries remains uncertain (it most likely does not). But in a way, palm oil has generated its own global expansionary colonial wave. More colonial commodities will produce new colonial races too. A global move to renewable energy, an absolute necessity, is likely to unleash a new colonial scramble for lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earths. Obtaining strategic access to these commodities will become a priority, establishing and enforcing monopolies greatly tempting. Even the ‘global value chains’ can be seen as a modern manifestation of eminently colonial relations. What circulates these days are not necessarily colonial commodities exchanged in the context of profoundly unequal relations involving metropole and colony, but parts necessary for the assemblage and manufacturing of products exchanged internationally in the context of profoundly unequal relations involving ostensibly independent polities. While global value chains involved in 2013 up to 80% of the global trade, extremely specialised production processes that involve different locations generate value that accrues only in some locations.20 The plantations of mercantilist colonialism and, later, the plantations of free trade imperialism were also sites uniquely characterised by extremely specialised production processes. Even some of the monetary arrangements involving former colonised polities also sustain recognisably colonial relations. French Africa’s CFA economic and monetary zone is premised on the ‘stability’ that derives from the legalised transfer and storage of capital elsewhere.21 The global economy shaped by neoliberalism, and before that, the global economy shaped by ‘development’, are not that dissimilar from classic imperialism.22 The ‘frontier zones’ of the colonial world have also returned, the permanently unsettled borderlands of western Asia, for example, and the ‘failed’ states of Africa. A failed state allows a mix of foreign corporate, nongovernmental, and institutional concerns to step in and enables extraordinary extractive possibilities, a recognisably colonial circumstance. Interest in failed states as a phenomenon peaked in the immediate post-Cold War, but then waned, not because the failed states were put back together, but possibly because their existence was normalised.23 ‘Disaster colonialism’ is a thing; and if climate change is a disaster linked to colonialism ‘carbon
186 Conclusion colonialism’ is also a reality.24 The colonisers of the world did the polluting and now can afford mitigation and adaptation, while the colonised are already disproportionally affected. Having endured the disaster of colonialism, they must survive the colonialism of further disaster. And while colonialism ‘returns’ even where it never was, ‘data colonialism’ is now a global phenomenon, even terra nullius, which was always a legal fiction, returns.25 The current ‘land grabs’ are a recognisably colonial phenomenon now widespread in many parts of the Global South.26 The protectorates have returned: Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan until 2021, and Iraq under occupation in the 2000s and 2010s, are or until recently were de facto protectorates, polities that are or were run by a mix of international forces and organisations.27 The Boxer rebellion was also subdued through an intervention led by a combination of Western colonial outfits. In these polities, forms of indirect rule and delegation of day-to-day governance have been experimented with various degrees of success by the ‘international community’. Likewise, several post-Soviet entities are currently only recognised by Russia. They are functional protectorates. The international military expedition as a colonial formation has also returned: it was re-inaugurated in Somalia in the early 1990s, and then rehearsed against Libya in the early 2010s. Under attack, Colonel Gaddafi warned in 2011 that a new colonial future beckoned for the country. He was right on the money, and the civil war factions that took over were supported by many interested foreign parties, including former colonial powers (France, Italy and Turkey). The colonial interventionism of proconsular colonialists has returned too: Australia has for decades understood itself as Washington’s ‘deputy sheriff’ in the South Pacific. It was involved in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, in Nauru, and in Papua New Guinea, even if it has lost some influence recently. Even colonial genocide has returned. Genocide had imperial and colonial origins, now even Germany says so, after it agreed to compensate the descendants of the Herero and Nama in Namibia, and while the destruction of the European Jewry was underpinned by colonial and settler-colonial imaginings (Hitler was thinking of settler colonial North America when he dreamt of a new population order for eastern Europe), genocide had been imported into Europe from the colonial world. Césaire suggested this, but Hannah Arendt also put this argument forward. In Rwanda, in 1993, genocide returned to colonial settings.28 The definition of distinct and separate economic ‘spheres of influence’ has returned: China’s expansion in Africa and its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative are examples of this process, but so is the recent exclusion of China’s telecommunications and Internet corporations from specific markets.29 The ‘imperial’ ban on Huawei products established a de facto monopoly for Western-aligned concerns. Likewise, the unilaterally declared sanction regime currently targeting Iran is ultimately an economic blockade, another typically colonial device. It is seen as such by the Iranian leadership. And
Conclusion 187 then there are the coming colonial races, the new colonial scrambles for rare earths elements, and coltan, lithium, cobalt, platinum, gallium, indium, germanium, and many more minerals, all needed to manufacture the devices that enable many to live their networked lives.30 It is likely that these strategic commodities will unleash their own colonial waves. Informal colonialism has also returned. It never went away, but it has now taken a more explicit configuration. In 2015, Greece effectively became a protectorate of the European Union. The European ‘troika’, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, acquired quasisovereign capabilities there. It was an inclusive form of colonialism, with German and French capital being hegemonic, while Greek institutions were forced to relinquish their legislative power.31 The local legislature could not enact legislation, bills had to be approved by the European Union-endorsed ‘Quartet’ before reaching parliament, the executive did not control expenditure, a foreign-controlled Council for Fiscal Discipline had the authority to cut public expenditure, and the local authorities no longer controlled tax collection (which was managed instead by an ‘independent’ agency appointed by Brussels). The country’s strategic assets, the banks, and its infrastructure are now mainly foreign owned. More generally, a new-old doctrine defines international relations. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine (R2P), often invoked to justify military interventions, has colonial resonances and overrides the Westphalian sovereign attributes that the postcolonies had acquired with decolonisation. The leaders who met at Bandung would be horrified by this development. They had clearly stated that foreign interventions are never justified. Humanitarian arguments are entirely legitimate, but they also are one important way in which colonialism returns in the global present.32 Analogous doctrines about ‘responsibility’ were used by the British navy to patrol Atlantic waters during the nineteenth century, by King Leopold to seize the Congo, allegedly to stamp out the slave trade, and even by fascist Italy to attack Ethiopia. In any case, the US Department of Defense currently commits to global ‘full spectrum dominance’, a posture that closely resembles the British government’s commitment all the way to WWII to the ‘double standard’, a provision that required that the size of the British Navy should be at least equal to the total sum of the two largest competing navies. And it is not a mere claim: in 2015 there were about 800 US military bases in about 70 countries around the world.33 A ‘base’ is defined as a ‘specific geographic location […] under the jurisdiction of a Department of Defense Component on behalf of the United States’, as good a definition of a colony as any.34 Where permanent bases cannot reach, there are drones, and their use has proliferated in the 2010s. Extraordinarily mobile and capable of delivering violence from a distance, the weapons-carrying drones epitomise mobility and violence like the ships of the first six global colonial waves had. And yet, whether they can be used to shore up colonial relations remains uncertain. A drone, after all,
188 Conclusion delivers its payload anywhere, violent and mobile, but does not engage with its targets. There is no relation. *** British Prime Minister Tony Blair emphatically talked in 2001, after September 11, about the need ‘to re-order the world around us’.35 He talked up the efficacy of international interventions: Rwanda had been an unmitigated disaster because of a lack of international commitment, the crises in Kosovo and Sierra Leone had had positive outcomes because of international intervention. He was then advocating a type of inclusive colonialism, but after the ‘fall’ of globalism that began in 2016, exclusive colonial formations have returned. After a phase of inclusive colonialism during the era of the ‘Washington consensus’, mercantilism and exclusive modes of exploitation (i.e., tariffs, which are selectively applied to exclude competitors from specific markets) may be on their way in. I write these notes in late 2021. There are now two international development banks for example, the World Bank, and the new Asia Development Bank. Taking loans with one means not doing business with the other; these institutions understand their operations like the monopolist corporate concerns of the first few global colonial waves did. But mercantilism and free trade, as we have seen, are defined by their dialectical tension, and we may be at a new crisis point: the hegemony of the US resembled for decades the hegemony that characterised the imperialism of free trade during the nineteenth century, and the pendulum may be shifting now, in the third decade of the twenty-first century, not towards equal relationships, but towards new forms of mercantilist protectionism. Support for free trade is a marker of colonial hegemony; the Dutch, the British, and the Americans all argued for free trade when they were at the peak of the colonial pecking order. The Dutch and the British afterwards shifted to protectionism as their ascendancy entered sustained crisis, we should not be surprised if the US opts to enforce protectionist measures too. Relying on a monopoly of the international means of exchange –the US dollar is indeed an indispensable means of exchange currently underpinning a structurally unequal system –is not unprecedented either. Exchanging goods and currencies for paper (or electronic paper) can be seen as a form of imperial tribute. There are fundamental differences, of course, especially with regards to scale, but during the first global colonial wave the Portuguese control of the Indian Ocean also created a system capable of extracting profits from the ability to seek rent and piggyback on existing networks of trade. While this is certainly a monopoly worth protecting, it is likely that it will be challenged, like the Spanish fleets carrying silver were during the second global colonial wave. But if colonialism and indeed empire returns, and if we live a global post- postcolonial condition, the current colonial backflow means that we face again the need to resist colonialism and not only undo its consequences. We
Conclusion 189 must then think about the ways we can protect ourselves and our world from a new rising wave. It would be the eighth. How to pre-empt it? Addressing debt would be a decolonial move. As we have seen, international debt fundamentally characterises the global history of colonialism.36 The successor states have invariably inherited the debts of their colonial predecessors, together with the ‘dual economies’ established by colonialism: one exogenous, modern, and focusing on exports, the other indigenous, catering to local needs, traditional and underdeveloped (and unsuitable for obtaining loans on decent terms).37 Some have moved on, at least partially, but most could not. Debt is used to discipline the postcolony and to trap it indefinitely within an unequal relation. Unequal terms of international trade create debt, and the postcolonial economies that produce great quantities of a limited number of tradable commodities are severely exposed to disadvantageous and declining terms of trade. In turn, attempts to develop and diversify must rely on loans raised in international markets, which further deepens subjection. Neocolonial debt was unpayable by design. Neoliberal financial debts are unpayable by design. If colonialism as an unequal relation succeeds by reproducing itself and its structural inequality, by piggybacking on itself, then an unpayable debt is a quintessentially colonial device. It is not meant to be repaid; its primary function is to discipline.38 Then again, debt is a remarkably resilient formation, and abandoning this relationship of subjection has proved extremely difficult. Attempts to unilaterally repudiate international debt have always ended badly for the colonised. Debt forgiveness would be the alternative. Then again, we should pay attention to the words we use and the ideologies they sustain. What is it exactly that should be ‘forgiven’? It should be the descendants of the colonisers, who are now enjoying the benefits of colonialism’s consequences, who should ask for forgiveness, not the other way around. Considering its direct links with both enslavement and debt, the abolition of carceral colonialism would be a decolonial move. The prison industrial complex is a massive pool of stagnant and poisonous floodwater left over from wave after wave of colonial subjection. Reparations would be a decolonial move. Reparations for slavery and for other colonial crimes, including stealing land to make room for settlers, or for slaves owned by settlers, would be a necessary component of a comprehensive project of reclamation after more than five centuries of uninterrupted floods.39 Slavery and land theft are the really unpayable debts: they are unpayable because, unlike other debts, they are rarely quantified and are almost inevitably approached, when and if they are approached, as moral debts (and therefore unactionable, which seems convenient). But if there are colonial legacies now, and if there is a colonial present now, there is also a good case for reparations now (a ‘legacy’ is by definition something that ties the present and the past). The metropoles and their neo-European settler colonial offshoots benefited from the free labour of tens of millions of workers for centuries. Their economies and societies were modernised and developed
190 Conclusion with the proceeds. Systemic poverty and chronic disease remain on the other side. It is a no brainer. Reparations are about money and dignity, but the case for reparations makes sense especially because reparations disbursed as compensation for the end of colonialism are not unprecedented (reparations for other historical crimes are also now an established feature of international relations).40 France demanded and obtained reparations from Haiti for daring to declare and defend its independence, and for ending slavery; the French colonists and their descendants were eventually indemnified for their ‘losses’. Britain paid its slave owners for the loss of their ‘property’ when the slaves were emancipated, and compensation for abolition was a massive undertaking: 40 per cent of the national budget at the time. Even the Confederates who rebelled against the Union received some compensation for the loss of their chattel property. Indigenous lands should also be returned, another necessary decolonial move. Compensation for stealing land should be on the agenda. Substantive Indigenous sovereignties should be recognised. Since much of this world was built on the back of expropriated colonised labour and on appropriated Indigenous land, a global payroll tax and a system of land taxes may be set up to undo the legacies of an unequal relation. We should ‘pay the rent’, as some Aboriginal peoples in the state I live in are demanding, and we should finally compensate labour that was obtained in violent and callous ways.41 As we have seen, colonialism thrives on the ability to transfer empire across space and time; that is, to piggyback on and reproduce itself as a dynamic relationship of subjection after an original moment of colonial accumulation. It was colonialism and empire in the western hemisphere and in the tropical islands during the first and the second global colonial waves that later enabled a transfer of empire towards the temperate prairies during the third, and towards Asia during the fourth. And it was an ability to transfer the profits of colonial subjection through time that sustained the reproduction of colonialism in the longue durée. Anticolonial resistance succeeded historically by forcing and taking advantage of the general crises of empire. Reparations will undo this transfer by way of a … transfer. A global insurgency demanding reparations will ‘create’ in the twenty-first century the ‘two, three, many Vietnams’ evoked in the struggle for anticolonial freedom during the twentieth.42 Reparations will undo the colonial transfers. Meanwhile, removing the statues that celebrate colonial criminals would also help. Confederate generals, arch imperialists, and English slave traders ‘must fall’, like Rhodes’ statue did.43 Three arguments are generally offered against removing statues: first, removal must be an act democratically decided upon, not the result of unilateral action by a radicalised minority; second, statues are a testament to historical complexity and should not be destroyed; and third, the slaver/murderer under scrutiny was a man of his time and should not be judged by today’s standards. All these arguments miss
Conclusion 191 the most important point: it is now time to let go of these figures because the focus should not be the statue, an historical artefact of dubious taste, and an artifact that typically does not convey complexity, but its location. Socially significant settings, like public squares and educational settings, should be off limits. Perhaps the bottom of a canal would be a more suitable location, complexity could be conveyed from there. In any case, the decision to celebrate anything is not something that the past has inflicted on everybody for all time.44 Once they fall, they may be left wherever they fall. For example, many of the statues that celebrated British rule in India are now kept in the ‘neglected backyard of Lucknow Zoo’, to the dismay of British arch- imperialist Niall Ferguson.45 The timing for all these moves may be appropriate –merely removing the statues without facing the question of reparations would be a cop out. After the very public murder of George Floyd in May 2020 in Minneapolis an unprecedented shift in public sentiments accompanied demonstrations organised by an emerging global Black Lives Matter movement. Australia also witnessed a spate of well-attended demonstrations in every capital city. Many European cities witnessed demonstrations too, and several statues celebrating colonisers have since been removed. What can explain this measurable shift in public attitudes? Perhaps the lockdowns that followed the COVID-19 pandemic have made many more sensible to the constraints to public mobility and the concerns for personal safety in public spaces that Black and Indigenous peoples have faced for centuries under colonialism and its afterlives. Many have resented this shift. A collective, widespread, public, dogged and very political determination to flaunt social distancing measures and not wear protective face masks, especially in the US, can be interpreted as a deliberate and public attempt to refuse being treated like Black people, a stance that follows the unconscious but very real recognition that public safety measures that apply to all extend to all the structural limitations that normally apply only to racialised constituencies. Significantly, Jim Crow measures were routinely uttered in the language of public prophylactics, while as Frantz Fanon powerfully argued, the dehumanising experience of racialised blackness under colonialism can be summarised as that of being compelled to wear a mask.46 This extension and universalisation of subjection may be conducive to unprecedented decolonising solidarities. A new and not unequal relation is what we need.
Conclusion –Further Resources 1) US President Barack Obama meets Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, 2009
Figure 10.1 US President Barack Obama meets Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, 2009 © SEAN DRAKES/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: A Black American president greets an Amerindian and Afroamerican president … Could this encounter be seen as a decolonial moment? Or was it instead a meeting inevitably framed by structurally unequal relations?
Conclusion 193 2) Teddy Roosevelt and subjected individuals at the Natural History Museum, NYC
Figure 10.2 Teddy Roosevelt and subjected individuals at the Natural History Museum, NYC © jentzphoto/Alamy Stock Photo
Note: The Roosevelt Monument in New York effectively encapsulated the distinction between second and third global colonial waves. It was removed in 2020 because it was an intolerably explicit reclamation of settler colonialism. This statue stood in front of the Museum of Natural History, facing Central Park, in New York. The Black man is naked, but his rifle is ready. He is subaltern, yet mobilised. The Indian chief, on the contrary, is dressed in pseudo-traditional garb. His rifle is not at the ready. He is subaltern and demobilised. The Indigenous and the exogenous ‘Others’ are at the level of the horse and are looking wherever the white man above them is looking. They are unable to even see each other. The monumental compound surrounding this statue conveyed a specific narrative about Teddy Roosevelt: it begins with ‘rancher’, immediately followed by ‘scholar’, and it culminates with ‘soldier’ and ‘patriot’. This is all so distant from the friendly figure impersonated by Robin Williams in the Night at the Museum movie franchise. Under Roosevelt’s presidency, the US joined the imperialist scramble and the fifth global colonial wave (see Chapter 6). Literally sitting above two figures symbolising the second and
194 Conclusion third, the rider could be imagined looking forward towards the fifth and sixth ones, when the US would be growing both in reach and power, and especially the seventh one, which saw the US becoming a veritable global hegemon. This is so fitting: perhaps colonialism rides on already established networks of subjection as much as it piggybacks on them … 3) Movie for discussion: The Last King of Scotland (2006) Note: Like Lumumba (Resource 1, Chapter 9 above), this movie is also about a failing decolonisation. Question: Again, who are the colonialists in this movie? Who are the anticolonialists? 4) Movie for discussion: Wah Wah (2005) Note: This movie is about the end of colonialism. Question: How is the coloniser ‘portrayed’ here (the ‘coloniser’ was once famously ‘portrayed’ by Albert Memmi in the 1950s in a book that can be seen as initiating the field of colonial studies)?47 Is the coloniser well? 5) Resource for discussion: ‘Debt data Portal’ (https://data.jubileedebt. org.uk/) Note: The Jubilee Debt Campaign is a UK-based NGO. It focuses and publishes country-by-country debt data. Has the global history of colonial globalisation contributed to a global pattern of debt exposure? 6) Conclusion –Main Points 1) The legacies of colonialism are everywhere. The contemporary global political and economic crises, ethnic and national conflicts, and postcolonial migrations have all colonial origins (even if not all their origins can be referred to as colonialism). A history of colonialism shapes the global present. 2) But it is not only about a colonial past that impinges on the present. We live in a global colonial present: a number of recognisably colonial phenomena shape our lives. Colonial relations are a current affair. 3) There are signs that the era of inclusive neocolonialism marked by the ‘Washington Consensus’ may be ending. The world is now deglobalising and the seventh wave may be losing strength. Exclusive modes of exploitation, and the ‘spheres’ of influence that characterised the ‘new’ imperialism of the fifth global colonial wave are proliferating. A neo- neomercantilist and neomonopolist era beckons. Is the colonial pendulum about to shift again?
Notes 1 Federal Court of Australia, ‘Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria & Others’ (available at: http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/ au/cases/cth/FCA/1998/1606.html). 2 Martin Pengelly, ‘Kamala Harris: European Colonizers “Ushered in Wave of Devastation for Tribal Nations” ’, The Guardian, 13/10/21 (https://www.theg uardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/12/kamala-harris-shameful-history-european- colonization-indigenous-peoples-day). 3 Derek Gregory, The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Malden, Ma, Blackwell Publishers, 2004; Lorenzo Veracini, The Settler Colonial Present, Houndmills, Palgrave, 2015. 4 Mahmood Mamdani,‘Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43, 4, 2001, pp. 651–664. 5 Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire, New York, The Penguin Press, 2004. 6 Nicholas Ferns, ‘Colonialism as Foreign Aid: Australian Developmental Policy in Papua New Guinea, 1945–75’, Australian Historical Studies, 51, 4, 2020, pp 459–476. 7 Michael Herzfeld, ‘Thailand in a Larger Universe: The Lingering Consequences of Crypto-Colonialism’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 76, 4, 2017, pp. 887–906. 8 Katsuya Hirano, Toulouse-Antonin Roy, Lorenzo Veracini, ‘Vanishing Natives and Taiwan’s Settler-Colonial Unconscious’, Critical Asian Studies, 50, 2, 2018, pp. 196–218. 9 Mamdani, Citizen and Subject. 10 Gott, ‘Latin America as a White Settler Society’. 11 Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1973. 12 Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus. 13 French writer Renaud Camus has coined the notion of the ‘Great Replacement’: an alleged conspiracy ordained by cosmopolitan capital and the anti-racist left to destroy Europe’s civilisation with immigrant masses from formerly colonised countries. See A. Dirk Moses, ‘ “White Genocide” and the Ethics of Public Analysis’, Journal of Genocide Research, 21, 2, 2019, pp. 201–213. On postcolonial Europe, see Elizabeth Buettner, Europe after Empire: Decolonization, Society, and Culture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016. 14 A. Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1967; H. Cardoso, E. Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1979. 15 Bruce Gilley, ‘The Case for Colonialism’, Third World Quarterly, 2017 (available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01436597.2017.1369037). 16 John Connell, Robert Aldrich, The Ends of Empire: The Last Colonies Revisited, Houndmills, Palgrave, 2020. 17 R. Chuck Mason, ‘Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA): What Is It, and How Has It Been Utilized?’ Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress, 15/03/12 (available at: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/ RL34531.pdf).
196 Conclusion 18 Vanessa Ogle, ‘ “Funk Money”: The End of Empires, The Expansion of Tax Havens, and Decolonization as an Economic and Financial Event’, Past & Present, 249, 1, 2020, pp. 213–249. 19 Keller Easterling, The Power of Infrastructure Space, London, Verso, 2014. 20 EPW Engage, ‘Insidious Imperialism: What Does Empire-building Look Like in the 21st Century?’ Economic & Political Weekly, 05/03/19 (available at: https:// www.epw.in/engage/article/insidious-imperialism-what-does-empire). 21 The CFA franc is actually two currencies: the West African CFA, and the Central African CFA. Thomas Fazi, French Colonialism Lives on in Africa’, Spiked, 31/05/19. 22 Utsa Patnaik, Prabhat Patnaik, A Theory of Imperialism, New York, Columbia University Press, 2016; Robert Gildea, Empires of the Mind: The Colonial Past and the Politics of the Present, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019. 23 Jean-Germain Gros, ‘Towards a Taxonomy of Failed States in the New World Order: Decaying Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda and Haiti’, Third World Quarterly, 17, 3, 1996, pp. 455–472. 24 Heidi Bachram, ‘Climate Fraud and Carbon Colonialism: The New Trade in Greenhouse Gases’, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 15, 2004, pp. 5–20; Gustavo A. García López, ‘Reflections on Disaster Colonialism: Response to Yarimar Bonilla’s “The Wait of Disaster” ’, Political Geography, 78, 2020 (available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102170). 25 Jim Thatcher, David O’Sullivan, Dillon Mahmoudi, ‘Data Colonialism through Accumulation by Dispossession: New Metaphors for Daily Data’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 34, 6, 2016, pp. 990–1006. 26 Derek Hall, ‘Primitive Accumulation, Accumulation by Dispossession and Global Land Grab’, Third World Quarterly, 34, 9, 2013, pp. 1582–1604; Fred Pearce, The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth, London, Penguin, 2013. 27 Ralph Wilde, Colonialism and Trusteeship Redux? Imperial Connections, Historical Evolution, and Legitimation in the ‘Post- Colonial’ Era, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008. 28 Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, p. 36; Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York, Harcourt, 1994 , p. 155; Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001. 29 On whether the flows of Chinese capital to peripheral economies in Africa and elsewhere in Asia are to be considered a ‘new’ form of imperialism, see Jay Tharappel, ‘Why China’s Capital Exports Can Weaken Imperialism’, World Review of Political Economy, 12, 1, 2021, pp. 27–49. Tharappel believes that they are not. 30 See Jussi Parikka, A Geology of Media, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2015. 31 Radman Selmic, ‘Financialization in the Crypto-Colonies: Greece and Thailand’, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 20, 6, 2018, pp. 868–889. 32 See Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2018. 33 David Vine, Base Nation: How US Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, New York, Metropolitan, 2015.
Conclusion 197 34 Patterson Deppen, ‘The All-American Base World: 750 U.S. Military Bases Still Remain Around the Planet’, TomDispatch, 19/08/21 (available at: https://tomd ispatch.com/the-all-american-base-world/). 35 Cited in Ferguson, Empire, p. 373. 36 David Greaber, Debt –The First 5000 Years, New York, Melville House, 2011; Miranda Joseph, Debt to Society: Accounting for Life under Capitalism, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 37 On the ‘dual economies’ of colonial and postcolonial societies, see Julius Herman Boeke’s classic Economics and Economic Policy of Dual Societies, New York, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1953; on the problems associated with inheriting a specific economic space created by colonialism, see Manu Goswami, Producing India: From Colonial Economy to National Space, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004. 38 Maurizio Lazzarato, Governing by Debt, Boston, MA, MIT Press, 2012. 39 A scheme for reparations to formerly colonised countries may involve repurposing an already existing financial instrument: the International Monetary Fund-backed Special Drawing Rights. This device, when associated to reparations for colonialism, would have the additional benefit of linking reparations with unequal trade and the past with the present. See Michael Franczak, Olúfẹ́mi O Táíwò, ‘Here’s How to Repay Developing Nations for Colonialism –and Fight the Climate Crisis’, The Guardian, 14/01/22 (available at: https://www.theguard ian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/14/heres-how-to-repay-developing-nations- for-colonialism-and-fight-the-climate-crisis). Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò makes a compelling case for reparations now in Reconsidering Reparations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022. 40 Susan Slyomovics, How to Accept German Reparations, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 41 Pay the Rent Campaign, ‘Pay the Rent: Sorry Isn’t Enough’ (available at: http:// paytherent.net.au). 42 Ernesto Che Guevara, ‘Message to the Tricontinental, Havana, 16 April 1967’ (available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1967/04/16.htm). 43 Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba, Athinagamso Nkopo (eds), Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire, London, Zed Books, 2018. 44 Gary Younge, ‘Why Every Single Statue Should Come Down’, The Guardian, 01/06/21 (available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/jun/01/ gary-younge-why-every-single-statue-should-come-down-rhodes-colston). 45 Ferguson, Empire, p. 219. 46 Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, London, Penguin, 2019 . 47 Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized.
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Abraham Accords 180 Acapulco 28 Adas, Michael 7 Addis Ababa 170 Aden 162 Adwa, Battle of 115, 141 Afghanistan 97, 180, 186 Africa 44–45, 101, 113 African National Congress 135 Agadir Crisis 119 Age of Exploration (first and second) 63 Ainu 149–150 Alaska 123 Algeria 97, 104, 136, 139, 163, 169, 170–171 Amazon Forest 84, 116 Amboyn 28 Amristar 131 Amsterdam 30 Anglo-Commonwealth 166 Anglo-Dutch wars 61 Angola 39, 116, 136, 172 Anthropocene 9 Anticolonialism 113, 134–135 Apartheid 136 Arendt, Hannah 123, 186 Argentina 80, 97 Asia Development Bank 188 Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere 148 ‘Asian tigers’ 5 Asiento de negros 44 Ataturk 138, 169 Atlantic Charter 169 Atlantic Islands 41 Atlantic slave trade 39, 41, 43, 44 Atzec empire 20, 22 Audiencias 26 Australasia 97 Australia 12, 23, 80, 82, 94, 180, 186
Baden Powell, Robert 120 Bahia 41 Balboa, Vazco Núñez de 22 Balearic Islands 10 Balfour Declaration 120, 137 Bandung, international conference 147, 164, 165, 187 Barbados 41 Batavia 62 Bay of Pigs 141 Belt and Road initiative 186 Beijing, 102 Benin 167 Bentham, Jeremy 81 Berlin-Baghdad railway 130 Bhaba, Homi 8 Birmingham 47 Black Legend 13, 165 Black Lives Matter 191 Blair, Tony 188 Blue water 1, 9 Boarding schools 82 Boers 107 Boer War 119, 120, 123 Bolivia 182 Bolsonaro, Jair 84 Bosnia 186 Bougainville 179 Brazil 23, 24, 28, 29, 37, 39, 42, 43, 61, 95, 96–97, 182 Brazzaville 169 Brexit 66, 84, 137 Britain 41, 47, 48, 74, 78, 93, 162 British Dominions 133 British Empire 78, 81, 94, 95 British Overseas Territories 184 British Royal Africa Company 185 Burke, Edmund 80
Index 213 Burma 97, 117, 154 Byzantium 21
Cuito Cuanavale 172 Cyprus 84, 104, 162
Cabot, John 26 Cabo Verde 10 Cabral, Amílcar 2 Cabral, Pedro Álvares 22 Cadiz 28 California 75 Cameroon 114 Canada 81, 136 Canary Islands 10 Cape Colony 62, 63, 104 Cape Town 83 Capitulations 103 Caribbean islands 23, 24, 41, 42, 43, 94, 97 Caroline Islands 152 Carreira das índias 22 Cartaz system 20 Caucasus 97, 104 Cayman Islands 184 Central Asia 80, 97, 104, 130 Césaire, Aimé 5, 167, 186 Ceuta and Melilla 184 Ceylon 63 Charles the First of Spain 26 Chattel slavery 39–40 Chavez, Hugo 182 China 29, 63, 67, 92, 94, 97, 102–103, 104, 132, 138, 148, 164, 180, 186 Churchill, Winston 138 Cold War 156, 163, 173 Colombia 44, 182 Colombo 104 Colonial ‘changeover’ 55, 62, 93, 95, 137, 163, 172 Colonial state 112 Columbian exchange 9, 25 Columbus, Christopher 11, 21 Comancheria 79 Compagnie des Indes Orientales 59 Comprador bourgeoisie 99 Congo, Democratic Republic of, Zaire, 42, 115, 116, 172 Congress of Berlin 118 Conquistadores 13 Coolies 94 Cortez, Hernan 22 COVID-19 pandemic 191 Creole revolutions 73 Cripps, Stafford 140 Cuba 28, 42, 71, 95, 119, 123, 131, 182
da Gama, Vasco 22 Dakar 104 Debt 117, 189 Decolonisation 124, 138, 141, 165 de Gaulle, Charles 169, 171 de las Casas, Bartolomé 14, 28 Denmark 48 de Vaca, Cabeza 73 Development 167 Dien Bien Phu, Battle of 141, 163 Direct rule 134 Disaster colonialism 185 Doctrine of Discovery 21 Domestic dependent nations 2 Dominican Republic 131 Drake, Francis 26, 29 Du Bois, W. E. B. 11 Durham Report 81 Dustbowl 82 East African Federation 166 Eastern Ukraine 84 Easter Rising 132 East India Company (British) 4, 27, 58, 59, 81, 104 East India Company or VOC (Dutch) 27, 58–59 Ecuador 182 Egypt 107, 117, 118, 121, 131, 170 Elizabeth I of England 27 Elmina 46 Empire 3–6 Encomienda 10, 37 England 26, 29 Entente Cordiale 114 Equatorial Guinea 116 Eritrea 115 Ethiopia (Abyssinia) 42, 84, 115, 122, 136, 139, 170, 172 European Union 187 Evangelicals 94, 100 Export Processing Zones (EPZs) 184 Fanon, Frantz 2, 8, 10, 172, 191 Far East 80, 97, 104, 152 Fashoda Incident 122 Ferguson, Niall 191 Fiji 23, 179 Floyd, George 191 Foreclosure 76–77
214 Index France 26–27, 29, 116, 168 French Africa’s economic and monetary zone 185 French DOMs and TOMs 184 French Polynesia 179 French-Union 166, 169 Free trade 31, 41, 66, 69–70, 92–93, 188 French Canada 29 Frontiers of settlement 79 Gabon 171 Gaddafi, Muammar 186 Galeano, Eduardo 182 Galleon of Acapulco 58 Gambia 171 Gandhi 140 Garveyism 132 Genoa 30 George, Henry 81 Germany 114, 165 Ghana 15, 167, 171 Gibraltar 62, 104, 184 Global Financial Crisis 66 Global South 173, 183, 186 Global value chains 185 Goa 59 Good Hope, cape of 21 Great Divergence 12, 25, 66 Great Economic Depression 133, 153, 168 Greece 187 Greece (ancient) 3 Greek War Bonds 101 Grotius, Hugh 27, 93 Guadeloupe 29, 62, 95 Guam 28, 123 Guatemala 44, 141 Guinea 171 Guinea Bissau 116, 172 Gulf Sates 180 Haiti 48, 73, 93, 96, 117, 131 Haitian revolution 73 Hall, Stuart 2 Harris, Kamala 178 Harris Treaty 147 Havana 62 Hawaii 23, 123 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 2 Hiroshima 154 Hispaniola 28 Hobsbawm, Eric 47
Hobson, J. A. 4, 118, 120, 123, 165 Ho Chi Minh 137 Hokkaido 148, 149 Hong Kong 11, 102, 103, 148, 154, 180 Howe, Stephen 5 Huawei 69, 186 Huguenots 29, 76 Husain, bin Ali 141 Ibn Saud 141 Imperialism 4 Imperial Maritime Customs Service (China) 103 Inca empire 22 Indenture 39–40 Independence, Declaration of (US) 63 Independence, War of (US) 64 India 59, 61, 63, 65, 94, 95, 97, 100, 104, 118, 120, 138, 140, 154, 166, 168, 180 Indian ‘Mutiny’ 105 Indian National Congress, 135, 138 Indigenous resurgence 83, 182 Indigenous sovereignties 82 Indirect rule 134 Indochina 104, 116, 139 Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) 39, 61, 84, 116, 140, 154 Inner Mongolia 153 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 173 Ionian Islands 104 Iraq 137, 138, 178–179, 180, 186 Iran (Persia) 103, 141, 162, 186 Ireland 78, 84 Irian Jaya 84, 179 Isandlwana, Battle of 141 Israel 180 Israeli War of Independence 139 Italo-Turkish War 119 Ivory Coast 15, 171 Jamaica 26 Japan 28, 140, 147–156, 164, 180 Java 62, 100 Jim Crow 191 Jingoism 123 Jordan 180 Kanagawa Convention 149 Kashmir 84, 180 Kenya 136, 162, 163 Keynesianism 164
Index 215 Kirkpatrick, F. A. 6–7 Kitchener, Herbert 122 Korea 147, 148, 150, 151, 152, 166, 180 Kosovo 186, 188 Kumar, Krishan 6 Kuril Islands 148 Latin America (Spanish American possessions) 61, 63, 64, 65, 81, 84, 92, 95, 96, 97, 103, 117 Lawrence, T. E. 120 League of Nations 136, 139, 153 Lebanon 180 Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich 121, 122, 123 Leopold of Belgium 42, 115, 116 Liberia 116, 122, 123 Libya 136, 139, 172, 186 Libyan Civil War 174 Little Big Horn, battle of 141 Liverpool 47 Logic of elimination 8 London 30, 47, 66, 101 Loyalists 64 Lumumba, Patrice 172 Luxemburg, Rosa 31, 122 Macao 11 Macmillan, Harold 167 Madeira 10, 25, 37 Madagascar 100, 116, 170 Magdala 98 Magellan, Ferdinand 23 Malacca 62, 104 Malaya 141, 154, 162 Malaysia 116, 166 Malta 104 Mamdani, Mahmood 181 Manchukuo 153 Manchuria 131, 136, 147, 148, 152–153, 154 Mandates 131, 136, 139 Manifest Destiny 104, 107 Manila 28, 58, 62 Marianas Islands 152 Marietta 78 Market revolution 79 Maroon communities 40, 48 Marshall Islands 152 Martinique 29, 95 Maryland 24 Marx, Karl 3, 31
Massachusetts 77 Mauritius 62 Meji Restoration 147, 149 Memmi, Albert 2 Mercantilism (neomercantilism, protectionism) 55–58, 69–70, 112, 120, 188 Mexico 23, 28, 38, 93, 96, 101–102, 117, 182 Micronesia 114, 148 Middle ground, 26 Middle passage 8, 39 Mill, John Stuart 81, 93 Minorca 62 Mississippi Delta 44 Mita 22, 37 Mobutu Sese Seko 172 Monopolies 12, 41, 47, 60 Monroe Doctrine 93, 123, 141 Montezuma 14 Morocco 114, 116, 119 Mozambique 100, 116, 136, 172 Mugabe, Robert 181 Multatuli 14 Nagasaki 154 Nakba 83, 139 Namibia (German Soutwest Africa) 114, 115, 172, 186 Nanjing, Treaty of 102, 103 Nasser, Gamal Abdel 162, 170 Napoleon Bonaparte 96 National Congress of American Indians 178 Nauru 114, 136 Navarino, Battle of 101 Negritude 164 Neo-Europes 2 Netherlands 27, 29–30, 168 New Caledonia 83, 130, 179 New England 75, 77 New France 77 Newfoundland 26, 63 New Guinea 114 New Russia 84 New York 30 New Zealand 80, 82, 97, 179 New Zealand Company 78 Nigeria 171 Nkrumah, Kwame 171, 172 #NODAPL movement 182 North America 63, 80, 82, 97 Northwest Passage 11, 26
216 Index Nova Scotia (Acadia) 62, 63, 78 Nyerere, Julius 167 Obama, Barack 182 Ohio 78 Olney, Howard 178 Omdurman, Battle of 99 Open Door Policy 92 Opium Wars 11, 92, 97, 102 Ottoman Empire 103, 104, 117, 130 Ottoman Public Debt Commission 117 Oregon 75 Owen, Robert 81 Palestine (Occupied Palestinian Territories) 84, 131, 136, 138, 166, 181, 183 Panafricanism 132, 164, 167, 171 Panarabism 164 Panislamism 164, 167 Panama 28 Pakistan 140, 180 Papua New Guinea 179 Paris Peace Conference 124, 137, 152 Pernambuco 24, 41 Perry, Matthew C. 147 Peru 28, 182 Philby, ‘Jack’ 141 Philippines 28, 84, 119, 123, 141, 154, 163, 180 Physiocratic economics 65 Pieds-noirs 83 Pisa 10 Pitcairn 179 Pizarro, Francisco 28 Plantations 24, 43, 45–46 Plassey, Battle of 69 Poleis 3 Political economy 55, 65–66, 93 Pondicherry 59 Pontiac’s Rebellion 63 Port Arthur 151 Port factories 46 Portugal 12, 28, 37, 116 Potosi 23 Preclusive occupations 105, 119, 122 Proclamation Line of 1763 63, 64, 81 Puerto Rico 61, 123, 182 Punjab 97 Quebec 63
Rape of Nanking 154 Recolonisation 80 Reconquista 10 Reconstruction (US) 96 Reparations 45, 189–190 Responsibility to Protect (R2P) 187 Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars 62, 64, 96 Rhodesia 83, 136 Ricardo, David 93 Rio de Janeiro 96 Rome 3 Roosevelt Corollary 123 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 135 Roosevelt, Teddy 193 Rule of difference 2 Russia 130 Russo-Japanese War 151 Rwanda 186, 188 Ryukyu Islands 150 Saint Domingue 29, 95 Saint Lawrence River 27 Saint Simon, Henry de 81 Sakhalin island 148 Samoa 114, 123 Sankara, Thomas 172 Sardinia 10 Sartre, Jean Paul 2 Schumpeter, Joseph 121 Scramble for colonies 113, 119 Senegal 100, 171 Senghor, Léopold, 166 Setif 170 Settler revolution 64, 73, 81, 82 Settlers of 1820 78 Seven Years War (French and Indian War) 61, 62, 64, 95 Sevilla 28 Shandong 152 Shanghai 102 Sierra Leone 171, 188 Sind 97 Sino-Japanese wars, 151, 154 Singapore 62, 63, 148, 154 Smith, Adam 66, 93 Social imperialism 114 Solomon Islands 179 Somalia 115, 170, 181, 186 South Africa 11, 80, 83, 123, 156, 172, 173, 181 South Australia 78
Index 217 Soviet Union 132, 168 Spain, 37, 57, 116, 123 Spanish-American War 119, 123 Spanish Armada 29 Spanish Constitution of 1812 96 Spanish Succession, War of 62 Spice Islands 22 Standard Oil 141 Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) 184 Stimson Doctrine 153–154 Suez, 104, 118, 138, 162, 170 Suez Canal Company 117 Suez, Crisis of 162, 170 ‘Sugar revolution’ 23, 24, 41 Sukarno 141 Switzerland 15 Sykes-Picot Agreement 137 Syria 137, 180 Syrian Civil War 183 Systematic colonisation 78 Taiping and Boxer ‘Rebellions’ 103 Taiwan (Formosa) 147, 148, 150, 151, 180 Tanganyika 114, 115, 199 Tanzania 166, 172 Terra nullius 78–79, 186 Texas 75 Thailand 103, 180 Third International (Communist) 120, 132, 133 Third World 173 Third World Marxism 166 Third World Quarterly 183 Tibet 84 Timor (East Timor) 28, 179 Tocqueville, Alexis de 81, 104 Togo 114 Tordesillas, Treaty of 21, 22 Torrens title 77 Touré, Ahmed Sékou, 171 Trans-Siberian Railway 104 Transport revolution, 73 Treaty of Versailles 124 Trinidad and Tobago 62, 63 Trusteeship 132, 135f Tsingtao 114 Tsushima, Battle of 141 Tunisia 115 Turkey 132, 164, 169, 181
Unequal treaties 11, 102, 147 United Arab Emirates 180 United Arab Republic 166 United Nations 1, 124, 184 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 11, 82, 182 United States of America 41 United States Department of Defense 187 United States South, 95 Upper Peru 23 Venezuela 28, 44, 117, 182 Venice 30 Viet Minh 141 Viet Nam 117, 141, 166 Vikings 10 Virginia 12, 24, 26, 77 Virgin Islands 123 Wakefield, Edward Gibbon 81 War of Secession, Civil War (US) 95 Washington Consensus 11, 188 Watt, James 49 Wealth of Nations 66 Welser Company 28 Weltpolitik 114 Western Sahara 84, 116 West India Company (Dutch) 41 West Indies 12 West Indies Federation 166 White Australia Policy 83 Wilberforce, William 48 Williams, Eric 49 World Bank 173, 184, 188 World System theory 9 WWI 120, 130 WWII 141, 154, 169 Xinjiang 84 Year of Africa 166 Yemen 166, 181 Yorta Yorta 178 Young Turks, 130 Yushuv 138 Zanzibar 114, 119 Zapatista insurgency 182 Zheng He 174 Zimbabwe 181 Zionism 83, 120