I found this article (possibly a letter to the editor?) while browsing the NZETC archives of Salient, Vol. 1 No. 11 June 1938 to be precise. Although I’ll post some much more substantial gems later it caught my eye, not least because it’s from one of the first issues. Given the common narrative of universities, particularly in NZ, being in essence right-wing institutions up until around the 1950s-1960s, this fairly impassioned attack on the exploitation and violence of British Imperialism is somewhat fascinating. It might be of interest to any like myself who are easily engrossed not only in ‘raw’ NZ history but the history of opinion and ideology.

BRITISH LIBERTY?

Evidently A.M. considers that a bully’s action is condoned if he warns his victim before he strikes. No human Justice can condone the presence of Britain in India, let alone Britain’s presumption that she has a right to punish anyone there.

In the words of Sir Joynson Hicks, English Home Secretary 1924-9. “To say, as is said at Missionary Meetings, that we conquered India to raise the level of Indians that is pure cant. We conquered India by the sword, and by the sword we shall keep it. We hold it as the finest outlet for British goods.” This statement from one who is by no means a “bawling heretic” shows clearly the driving force of vested interests behind colonial expansion, and also shows the way in which the Church is willingly and blindly led by the nose by those same interests.

I suppose A.M. thinks that it is quite “naice” and in accordance with the “old school tie” to bomb the homes of primitive people. “They are only dirty niggahs, after all.” And can’t A.M. and all others of his ilk realise that out of the five hundred million people in the British Empire, only one-fifth has political freedom today. So much for the advancement Britain was going to bring to the people she conquered.

The negroes in British Africa, the West Indies and Trinidad have no political rights and are treated as though they belonged to a lower species of animal. In Africa the native workers have to carry about twelve passes which they call the “Twelve Badges of Slavery” before they are permitted to walk in the streets of any industrial city of South Africa. So much Vincent, for “Security of personal interests and expression.”

If A.M. can think with any honesty on fundamental issues, he will see that all the elements of Fascism abhorred by justice-loving people are present in the British imperialism that he upholds. There is no freedom of speech or the press, working class organisations are suppressed as in India and the West Indies, the right to hold meetings is denied, political offenders are imprisoned without charge or trial, opponents of the regime are interned in concentration camps. In Bengal, 2,500 youths have been interned in this way for from three to five years. Some have been released only under restrictions and on the personal guarantee of good behaviour given by Ghandi and others are still in the camp. Forced labour is imposed in all the British African colonies on the natives for anything from 60 to 180 days a year. Recently, in Kenya a bill was introduced to increase the latter number to 270 days a year.

And as for the racial persecution so prominent an element in Fascism, the treatment of subject races especially in India and Africa as though they were an inferior species, is not so very far removed from the Fascist treatment of the Jews.

Not for a moment should it be thought that this condones the Fascists in their dastardly work in Abyssinia, Spain, China, Germany and Austria; but rather does it cut the ground from under the Imperialist when he stands as such and condemns the Fascist countries. The only way in which he is Justified in condemning Fascism is in direct opposition to capitalism and naturally Imperialism, and as a worker for human liberty and social Justice. — E.W.

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