African - Rodney Chpt 5.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 3205F/G
Richard Vande Wetering

EXPATRIATION OF AFRICAN SURPLUS UNDER COLONIALISM  Colonialism was not merely a system of exploitation but one whose essential purpose was to repatriate the profits the profits to the so-called mother country  By any standards, labour was cheap in Africa, and the amount of surplus extracted from the African laborer was great  Therefore, to some extend=t the employer was responsible for insuring the physical survival of the worker by giving him a living wage  The racist theory that the black man was inferior led to the conclusion that he deserved lower wages  Colonial governments discriminated against the employment of Africans in senior categories; and, whenever it happened that a white and a black filled the same post, the white man was sure to be paid considerably more  Total wealth produced in Congo in any given year during the colonial period, more than one – third went out in the form of profits for big business and salaries for their expatriate staffs  Cash-crop peasants never had any capital of their own. The existed from one crop to another, depending on good harvests and good prices  No longer exploiting Africa by removing its labour physically to another part of the world. Instead, they were exploiting the labour and raw materials of Africa inside Africa  Trading companies made huge fortunes on relatively small investments in those parts of Africa where peasant cash-crop farming was widespread. The companies did not have to spend a penny to grow the agricultural raw materials  To insure that at all times the profit margin was kept as high as possible, the trading firms found to convenient to form pools. The pools fixed the price to be paid to the African cultivator and kept the price down to the minimum  Peasants worked for large numbers of hours to produce a given cash crop, and the price of the product was the price of those long hours of labour. Since primary produce from Africa has always received low prices, it follows that the buyer and user of the raw material was engaging in massive exploitation of the peasants  Throughout the colonial period, this inequality in exchange got worse  There was no objective economic law which determined that primary produce should be worth so little  Channels for the exploitation of surplus were not exhausted by the trading companies and the industrial concerns. The shipping companies constituted an exploitative channel that cannot be overlooked  The African peasant was the greatest loser, because both traders and shippers adjusted their differences by lowering prices of primary products to be paid to Africans  All investment in the colonies meant in effect the involvement of the big finance monopolies, since the smallest trading company was ultimately linked to a big banker  Colonial office in each colonizing country worked hand in hand with their governors in Africa to carry out a number of functions, the principal ones being as follows 1. To protect national interests against competition from other capitalists 2. To arbitrate the conflicts between their own capitalists 3. To guarantee optimum conditions under which private companies could exploit Africans  One major problem in Africa from a capitalist viewpoint was how to induce Africans to become laborers or cash crop farmers  The colonialist state intervened to use law, taxation and outright force to make Africans pursue a line favorable to capitalist profits  When all else failed, colonial powers resorted widely to the physical coercion of labor – backed up of course by legal sanctions since anything which the colonial government chose to do was legal  The simplest form of coerced labour was that which colonial governments exacted to carry out public works.  Labour for a given number of days per year had to be given free for these public works – building castles for governors, prisons for Africans, barracks for troops and bungalows for colonial officials  The Portugese have the worst record of engaging in slavery like practices and they too have been repeatedly condemned by international public opinion  The whole purpose of establishing colonial governments in Africa was to provide protection to national monopoly economic interests  In theory, a marketing board was suppose to pay the peasant to a reasonable price for his crop  In practice the boards paid peasants a low fixed rate during many years when world prices were rising  With regard to all peasant cash crops, the produce marketing boards made purchases at figures that were way below world market prices  Would be impossible to ignore the evidence of how the colonial administrators worked as committees on behalf of the big capitalists  Marketing boards helped the colonizing power to get its hands on some immediate cash  France also squeezed more out of Africans by imposing levies for military purposes. The French government dressed Africans in French army uniforms and used them to fight other Africans to fight other olonized peoples like the Vietnamese and to fight in European wars  Colonialis
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