Friday, September 16, 2011

Quotes for Friday from Kwame Nkrumah's Neo-Colonialism the Last Stage of Imperialism (II)

Capitalism contains many paradoxes, all of them based in the concept of commodity production: the few rich and the many poor; poverty and hunger amid superabundance; 'freedom from hunger' campaigns and subsidies for restriction of crop output. But perhaps the most ludicrous is the constant traffic in the same kinds of goods, products and commodities between countries. Everyone is busy, as it were, taking in other's washing. This is not done out of need, but out of the compulsion of profit-making and monopoly extension. The European Common Market has become the apotheosis of this process, as well as the dumping ground of international investment, dominated by the giant American banking concerns and their British satellites.

Present-day monopoly is highly variegated and spread out. While it draws its strength from its monopolistic position, it is on the other hand seriously exposed to the dangers that face a multiple organism that stretches its limbs to extremity in different directions. A fracture at any one point can lead to a disjunction which may unbalance the structure.

It is the burden of the less developed countries that continue to carry the burden of the increasing development of the highly developed.

Really to understand what goes on in the world today, it is necessary to understand the economic influences and pressures that stand behind the political events. The financial columns of the world's press give, in fact, 'the news behind the news'.

The neo-colonialist aim is not only to export capital but also to control the overseas market. Thus attempts are subtly made to prevent developing countries from taking any decisive steps towards industrialisation, since exploitation of the indigenous expanding market is now the prime motive.

While foreign private investment must be encouraged, it must be carefully regulated so that it is directed to important growth sectors without leaving control of such sectors in foreign hands.

In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neo-colonialism are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.

Faced with the militant peoples of ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is 'giving' independence to its former subjects, to be followed by 'aid' for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about 'freedom', which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.

Even the cinema stories of fabulous Hollywood are loaded. One has only to listen to the cheers of an African audience as Hollywood's heroes slaughter read Indians or Asiatics to understand the effectiveness of this weapon. For, in the developing countries, where the colonialist heritage has left a vast majority still illiterate, even the smallest child gets the message contained in the blood and thunder stories emanating from California. And along with murder and the Wild West goes an incessant barrage of anti-socialist propaganda, in which the trade union man, the revolutionary, or the man of dark skin is generally cast as the villain, while the policeman, the gum-shoe, the Federal agent - in a word, the CIA-type spy - is ever the hero. Here, truly, is the ideological under-belly of those political murders which so often use local people as their instruments.


  1. Very interesting quotes Nana! And a lot that I agree with. One thing that worries me though, is, that at least from these little snippets, there's no discussion of for example China - just the same old western powers being trotted out. At least in Zimbabwe, there is lots of discussion not of neo-colonialism, but of plain old colonialism - as China economically takes control of our country. I also worry a lot when writers condemn aid assistance out of hand. Until there is some other plan for keeping starving chldren alive, I think that is a very dangerous thing to condemn without some careful thoughts and caveats!

  2. @SN: first the book was published in 1965 and I don't think China had entered Africa at that time. Though I don't believe that China's invasion is the best way forward, I still don't think our association with the West has been in our interest and would never be. China has taken over our world just as the US and Europe have done. In fact, it is the purchase of US bonds by the Chinese government that keeps US economy alive. though here the benefit is mutual. US is also complaining of the movement of jobs to China.

    Besides, aid is dead. It has always been. Why are people hungry? We first must attack the root. Farmers in Europe are subsidised. Yet, the World Bank and the IMF is against developing countries subsidising agriculture/farming. What does this lead to? It creates poor competition and push farmers out of jobs. This definitely would lead to poor output. I believe once the whole book is read you would get the idea of why aid has never worked. And here the book never referred to food aid. Yet, even with food aid, it is the cause that must be tackled not the symptom. However, Kwame Nkrumah made it clear that it isn't trade that's the problem, but trade and investment should be guided by national principles so that a nation should be able to direct where foreign investments should go to and not always to the extractive industries.

  3. You have quotes that makes me want to think hard. This is such an important book.

  4. It is. The same things worry us today, 46 years after publishing.


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