Sunday, May 22, 2022

New States—old story (1964)

 From the May 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

We live in an age of newly rising capitalist states. The years since the end of the second world war have seen the emergence of Ghana, and many others in Africa. Often after a bitter struggle, the older powers have had to give way to the rising nationalists and hand over control of their former colonies. The winning of political freedom has been the green light for the development of native ruling classes, who have not been slow to consolidate their power, at times with an urgent ruthlessness which would have won the admiration of a Hitler or a Stalin. And in this, they have, of course, applied some of the lessons which they learned from their erstwhile oppressors.

So the British and French empires are no more, and as the new states gain influence, this will have some effect at least on the balance of power in the world of capitalism. Ghana, for instance, has made approaches to other West African states, and it is said that Nkrumah is aiming at a federation with himself as its political leader, it goes without saying. All the same, it would be unwise to assume that the influence of the old powers has come to an end, because whatever abuse may be hurled occasionally from the petulent Nkrumah, Tshombe and others, they have to face the fact that they cannot exist in isolation from the outside world. That world is already the market in which they sell their exports, comparatively small though they are at present. It will become more and more important to them as time goes by.

But until then, and in preparation for that day, a great deal of development will be going on, for which capital investment will be needed in large measure, and it is here that the business men of the old world will see their chance. There is a sort of mutual wooing between them and the new states anxious to attract capital which their own ruling class are not yet rich enough to provide. So this is the sort of background against which we must set the Ghanaian president’s statement to his parliament on March 10th, that £540 millions of the £1,016 millions for the seven years development plan will be from private investors:—
He stressed that his government had no desire to limit private investment in Ghana. Foreign investors were welcome and could earn their profits here, “provided they leave us an agreed portion for promoting the welfare and happiness of our people as a whole as against the greedy ambitions of the few ”. (Guardian, 11.3.64.)
He went on to mention the part played by the American Kaiser group of companies in the Volta hydro-electric scheme and by loans from Britain, America and the World Bank. So we can confidently ignore the president’s lying claims, "made almost in the same breath, that Ghana is a Socialist country.

Now take a look elsewhere in Africa. In the Autumn, Northern Rhodesia will become independent, and one British textile firm at least must be very pleased about it, having secured an order from Mr. Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party for 1½ million yards of gaily coloured cloth for the national dress. The printed cloth will bear the inscription “Freedom and Labour,” which shows the ideas that the nationalists have in mind for their native workers.

And in Kenya, too, the British government is busy negotiating financial deals which, in the words of Mr. Kenyatta, will provide the capital for diversifying Kenya's economy and reducing its dependence on agriculture as a source of income. There is also the question of military aid here, which goes to show that the area is still of strategic importance to the British capitalist class. Quite clearly in the modern world, there are other means of keeping fingers in the old colonial pies besides direct political control. It is not just a coincidence, after all, that there is a large amount of foreign capital invested in India; for example, the bulk of it British.

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