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What Kwame Nkrumah Said About Neo-Colonialism.
Brief Analysis on What Kwame Nkrumah Said About Neo-Colonialism
At the time he published Neo-Colonialism, the last Stage of Imperialism, Kwame Nkrumah was the President of Ghana, the first African country to achieve independence from colonial rule. One year later he would be deposed by a military coup that was supported by the American CIA. The name of Nkrumah's book is a variation on Lenin's own study of imperialism written 50 years before and named Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. This is fitting because Nkrumah's contribution remains the best single update on imperialism since Lenin.
Nkrumah explains in great detail how the West, and especially the United States, was responding to the success of national liberation movements, such as the one he led in Ghana, by shifting its tactics from colonialism to neo-colonialism: "Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags" and "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 objetives formerly achieved by naked colonialism."
The neo-colonial powers pursue their actions in the name of the United Nations by using two UN agencies that they established after World War and that they fully control without any pretext of democracy, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund: "Still another neo-colonialist trap on the economic front has come to be known as ‘multilateral aid’ through international organisations: the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-national Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as the World Bank), the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association are examples, all, significantly, having U.S. capital as their major backing. These agencies have the habit of forcing would-be borrowers to submit to various offensive conditions, such as supplying information about their economies, submitting their policy and plans to review by the World Bank and accepting agency supervision of their use of loans."
Neo-colonialism provides enormous profits as did colonialism before it. Nkrumah describes how Western monopolies control the prices of commodities by lowering the prices they pay and extracting some $41 billion in profits from 1951 to 1961.. Also they profit from high rates of interest: "while capital worth $30,000 million was exported to some fifty-six developing countries between 1956 and 1962, it is estimated that interest and profit alone extracted on this sum from the debtor countries amounted to more than £15,000 million."
Among the "innumerable ways" of neo-colonialist exploitation, Nkrumah describes the following. "There are conditions which hedge it around: the conclusion of commerce and navigation treaties; agreements for economic co-operation; the right to meddle in internal finances, including currency and foreign exchange, to lower trade barriers in favour of the donor country’s goods and capital; to protect the interests of private investments; determination of how the funds are to be used; forcing the recipient to set up counterpart funds; to supply raw materials to the donor; and use of such funds a majority of it, in fact to buy goods from the donor nation. These conditions apply to industry, commerce, agriculture, shipping and insurance, apart from others which are political and military. So-called ‘invisible trade’ furnishes the Western monopolies with yet another means of economic penetration. Over 90 per cent of world ocean shipping is controlled by me imperialist countries ... As for insurance payments, in 1961 alone these amounted to an unfavourable balance in Asia, Africa and Latin America of some additional $370 million."
As shown by the Nkrumah analysis, Neo-colonial exploitation "operates not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres. "
Detailed descriptions are provided of the infiltration and manipulation of organized labor organizations by agencies of the neo-colonial countries, especially the United States. Although he does not mention this, the largest part of the budget of the major U.S. labor organization for many years was supplied by the CIA for this purpose.
Hollywood is pressed into service. As he vividly describes, "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 red Indians or Asiatics to understand the effectiveness of this weapon. For, in the developing continents, 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."
So, too, the mass media is an arm of neo-colonialism. "While Hollywood takes care of fiction, the enormous monopoly press, together with the outflow of slick, clever, expensive magazines, attends to what it chooses to call ‘news. Within separate countries, one or two news agencies control the news handouts, so that a deadly uniformity is achieved, regardless of the number of separate newspapers or magazines; while internationally, the financial preponderance of the United States is felt more and more through its foreign correspondents and offices abroad, as well as through its influence over inter-national capitalist journalism. Under this guise, a flood of anti-liberation propaganda emanates from the capital cities of the West, directed against China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Algeria, Ghana and all countries which hack out their own independent path to freedom. Prejudice is rife. For example, wherever there is armed struggle against the forces of reaction, the nationalists are referred to as rebels, terrorists, or frequently ‘communist terrorists'!"
Religion, too, is distorted and used to support the aims of neo-colonialism. "Following the liberation movement there has been a veritable riptide of religious sects, the overwhelming majority of them American. Typical of these are Jehovah’s Witnesses who recently created trouble in certain developing countries by busily teaching their citizens not to salute the new national flags. ‘Religion’ was too thin to smother the outcry that arose against this activity, and a temporary lull followed. But the number of evangelists continues to grow."
Nkrumah goes on to describe how the U.S. Peace Corps, university professors and programs and the U.S. Information Agency are engaged in the support of neo-colonialism.
In the long run, however, neo-colonialism, like colonialism before it, will be defeated. Nkrumah points out that it has succeeded thus far by the tactic of "divide and rule" and that it will ultimatedly be defeated by the unity of exploited peoples This requires a clear understanding of the issues involved, for which Nkrumah's contribution is essential. As he says, "With the utmost speed, neo-colonialism must be analysed in clear and simple terms for the full mass understanding by the surging organisations of the African peoples. The All-African Trade Union Federation (AATUF) has already made a start in this direction, while the Pan-African Youth Movement, the women, journalists, farmers and others are not far behind. Bolstered with ideological clarity, these organisations, closely linked with the ruling parties where liberatory forces are in power, will prove that neo-colonialism is the symptom of imperialism’s weakness and that it is defeatable. For, when all is said and done, it is the so-called little man, the bent-backed, exploited, malnourished, blood-covered fighter for independence who decides. And he invariably decides for freedom."
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