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article imageOp-Ed: Reprise to Paxman's 'Empire'

By Alexander Baron     Apr 22, 2012 in Politics
Earlier this month, Robert Mugabe was apparently dying in a Singapore hospital bed. As he returns home, it is time to look back on the legacy of the British Empire as documented by Jeremy Paxman in his recent TV series.
Jeremy Paxman is a man you either love or hate, but whether you are a fan or quite the opposite, only a die hard leftist would disagree with the proposition that his recent TV series made out a powerful case for the British Empire as a force for good.
The proof of this can be found all over the place, most especially in what is left of Rhodesia after three decades of tyranny by one of Africa's longest serving dictators. Robert Mugabe was said recently to be close to death; he has now, alas, returned to liberated Zimbabwe.
The following facts are extracted from Whitaker's Almanack 1967, page 776:
Rhodesia, as it then was, had:
33 teacher training schools
88 secondary schools
5 schools “catering for the blind, the deaf and the dumb”
3,134 primary schools
108 farm schools
9 homecraft schools
94 night schools
16,760 African teachers in employment
614 European teachers
And the following are extracted from Whitaker's Almanack, 2009, page 1067:
“liberated” Zimbabwe - unemployment 80 per cent - (2005 estimate)
inflation rate 6,072 per cent (2007 estimate)
“The seizure of almost all the white-owned commercial farms caused a devastating drop in production and the agricultural-based economy collapsed” while “about 80 per cent of the population is living below the poverty line and many are dependent on food aid”.
After coming to power, Mugabe set about stealing the land of the country's white farmers. This process was known as Africanisation, which sounds strikingly similar to an earlier process known as Aryanisation, in Nazi Germany. The purging of Jews from the Germany economy was not only bad for Jews but was bad for Germany too, but the purging of whites from farming in liberated Zimbabwe was a disaster for the country, for two reasons. One is that the white ruling class (to lapse into leftist terminology) knew how to run the country, whereas the largely illiterate rural Africans did not. The other is that these misplaced agrarian reforms resulted in a sharp decrease in productivity, because a hundred small farmers do not have the economies of scale of one large farm.
Thirty years and more after the trashing of Rhodesia, the folly of its premature independence (under the pressure of sanctions and hatred from the rest of the world) is evident for all but the most dogmatic to see. Falling into this latter class are of course the comrades of the Socialist Workers Party, one of whom wrote in July 2008 that:
“I was fifteen in November 1965, when the racist regime of Ian Smith illegally declared Zimbabwe – or the settler colony of Southern Rhodesia, as it then was – independent of Britain...I remember watching the skies, hoping to see British paratroopers descend to liberate us...” When this liberation didn't come, the author felt like throwing up, but when Paddy Ashdown suggested that troops might be sent into what is left of Rhodesia to stop Mugabe's tyranny, this was a shocking double standard: “Apparently it’s OK to use force against a black government, but not a white one”.
This is total fantasy; the Government of Ian Smith declared UDI, but it did not terrorise the native population. In his article, Comrade Alex Callinicos points out candidly that Mugabe was battering a half starved population into submission. Under the Imperialist British, there was no starvation in Rhodesia, nor was there after Smith declared UDI. In March 2002, five years before his death, Smith was stripped of his citizenship, on which he gave a telling interview to the Daily Telegraph:
“They say to me, 'Please keep going Mr Smith. We lived better when you were around.' Policemen salute me, people shake my hand. I've got more black friends than Mugabe.”
What was that about liberating you, comrade?
In his recent TV series, Jeremy Paxman found the same attitude in other places, including Kenya. Anyone who knows something about the true history of black Africa rather than the fantasy that is dished up by the SWP will understand why. The following is an extract from a British White Paper, to give it its full title: INDIANS IN KENYA. MEMORANDUM., Presented to Parliament by Command of His Majesty July, 1923, Cmd. 1922, published by HMSO, London, (1923).
Page 10: “Primarily, Kenya is an African territory, and His Majesty's Government think it necessary definitely to record their considered opinion that the interests of the African natives must be paramount, and that if, and when, those interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail. Obviously the interests of the other communities, European, Indian or Arab, must severally be safeguarded...But in the administration of Kenya His Majesty's Government regard themselves as exercising a trust on behalf of the African population, and they are unable to delegate or share this trust, the object of which may be defined as the protection and advancement of the native races.”
Seven years later, these sentiments were echoed by a further White Paper, referring to what what then Tanganyika, and again, a full citation, we find:
MEMORANDUM ON NATIVE POLICY IN EAST AFRICA, Presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, June 1930. Published by HMSO, London, (1930). Cmd 3573.
From page 4: “The task and the duty of government in East Africa is...two-fold...On the one hand, it must be the aim of the administration of every territory with regard to all the inhabitants, irrespective of race or religion, to maintain order, to administer justice, to promote health and education, to provide means of communication and transport, and generally to promote the industrial and commercial development of the county. In all this range of work persons of every race and of every religion, coloured no less than white, have a right to equal treatment in accordance with their several needs.”
East Africa was to be held “in trusteeship for the native races” who were “not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world”.
Page 5 alludes to the declaration of the Duke of Devonshire in the aforementioned White Paper of 1923 that “the interests of the African natives must be paramount, and that if, and when, those interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail.”
It is clear that the British Government was always grooming African states for independence, and equally clear that most of them were granted it prematurely. Probably the wisest words about the decolonisation of Africa, including a prediction of the resulting chaos in what was once Rhodesia were written by Elmer Pendell in his 1967 book Sex Versus Civilization.
Pendell points out that there was no apartheid system in operation in Rhodesia, but there was a qualified franchise, the purpose of which was to ensure that the country was ruled by the most capable of its citizens. This included Africans who could prove they had a certain amount of education or a certain income. Giving illiterate people the franchise is no better than giving it to children, they are simply incapable of governing themselves. When that happens, the Communists step in and replace the resulting disorder with their form of order, a one party state in which the will of the people is directed by the government rather than reflected by it.
Even some of the African ruling class recognise this. In October 1994, an article in the London Times reported that an African diplomat had claimed many colonial powers should be sued by their former colonies for forcing independence on them without holding referenda: “They left many uncivilised people who, divided ethnically, were incapable of governing themselves”, he said, and even went as far as suggesting that a new form of colonialism should be imposed upon them by their neighbours.
Of course, Imperialism/British Colonialism was not intended solely or even principally for the benefit of the African or for any other colonial peoples, but the trade and development it brought literally dragged many peoples out of the Stone Age into the 20th Century, and these benefits are there for all to see.
English has become the lingua franca of the known universe - the language is even spoken in outer space - and the Empire brought the rule of law to especially Africa and India, stamping out both suttee and thugee in the latter and ritual murder in the former. It is ironic that there are ongoing and at times successful attempts to subvert the rule of law in Britain and other English speaking countries while at this very moment the people of Syria and other countries are fighting and indeed dying for the freedoms and ideals we exported to their continent.
Hopefully, Mugabe and his ilk will soon be overthrown, and with progressive governments aided by new technology and a bit of innovation - such as that displayed in Kenya recently - Africa will be back on track, but that requires an educated population, and that means the replacement of the old mission schools of the Imperialist masters by what we in the West now take for granted, a computer on every desktop, especially in every school.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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