The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources

I have been wanting to write this report and make this map for AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER. Thank god someone’s done it.

Colonialism never ended. Independence was an illusion.

http://www.waronwant.org/resources/new-colonialism-britains-scramble-africas-energy-and-mineral-resources#overlay-context=media/new-report-british-companies-leading-new-%E2%80%98scramble-africa%E2%80%99-worth-1-trillion

#BritishEmpireStateOfMind

Thoughts?

British Empire State of Mind is REAL – 44% of polled Brits say we should be proud of colonialism

This week the UK’s YouGov published the results of a poll where 44 per cent of British respondents said that the country should be proud of colonialism.

The poll comes ahead of the upcoming Oxford Union debate to decide the fate of a statue of British colonialist (murderer…racist…I could go on) Cecil Rhodes as a result of the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign to have it removed. 59% of respondents thought that it should stay.

Whether or not you think the statue should stay or go (and there are strong arguments to leave it and have it re-labelled), what’s more disturbing is the fact that there still exists within the public discourse, a narrative that seems to feel, as Rhodes said himself that “the more of the world we [English] inhabit, the better it is for the human race.”

According to YouGov “British people are not generally ashamed of the former Empire or of our history of colonialism. Only 19% say the Empire was a bad thing and only 21% say we should regret historic colonialism.”

50% of

UKIP voters and 37% of Conservative voters say Britain tends to view our history of colonisation too negatively – we talk too much about the cruelty and racism of Empire and ignore the good that it did. Young people (40%) and Labour voters (43%), on the other hand, are more likely to say we view our colonial history too positively, suppressing the cruelty, killing and injustice that went on.

YouGov previously found, in July 2014, that British people tend to say the countries that were colonised by Britain are now better off for it (49%) rather than worse off for it (15%). And 34% even said they would still like Britain to have an Empire, while 45% said they would not.

This Guardian article pretty much nails it when it says (satirically):

So, basically, nearly half the population thinks the Amritsar massacre, the concentration camps during the Boer war and after the Mau Mau uprising, the post-partition violence in India caused by uprooting 10 million people, and the four million deaths from famine in Bengal while Churchill diverted grain to British troops and other countries were – what? Dunno. Not things they knew about? The price of doing business? We did bring a lot of economic development to places, you know.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Britain has a very self-centric view of the world that continues to elevate it and its people as ‘civilisers’, ‘heroes’ and ‘saviours’, and traditional ‘British’ values, culture and norms as an ideal global standard.

Throughout history this ‘British Empire State of Mind’ and resulting actions has led to the suffering of people the world over, the pilfering of resources and the destruction of our planet. The result today is this: globally we are witnessing increasing political and economic inequality and borders that are closed to people but open to money, and at home in the UK there is a pervasive and growing fear of immigration and xenophobia and racism.

Beliefs like these are exactly the reason why I’m working with a group of people to run a series of interviews and events to challenge this mentality, and why it’s more important than ever to Rethink the British Empire State of Mind. If you agree, please join us. Get in touch via the Contact page or on Twitter @devtruths.

You can read the full YouGov press release here.

What do you think? Do these results surprise you? Do you agree with the 44 per cent of people surveyed who believe colonialism was a good thing? 

 

Video: Is Britain racist? #BESoM

Appearing on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015 back in May, rapper, poet and journalist Akala talks about Britain’s inherent xenophobia, touching on imperialism and colonialism and how that has bred and perpetuated racism and white-centricity in society today…

Akala starts speaking at 1.38…

“When we talk about race we often talk about individual acts of prejudice, which is why UKIP often come up because they overtly say stuff we find offensive. But unfortunately the issue of race if we understand it is a lot more insidious, and it takes a lot more of a historical view to understand the difference between individual bias and structural racism and privilege and the idea of Great Britain was intimately tied to the fact that Britain has invaded almost every country on the earth, literally. Literally there’s a map. You can Google it.  So the idea of our greatness was intimately tied to this idea of empire, which was intimately tied to what Rudyard Kipling calls ‘the white man’s burden’ – to go and  civilise all these stupid brown folks that have been writing and having civilisations for thousands of years but let’s forget about that.”

Let me know what you think – is Britain racist?

Dr Shashi Tharoor MP – “Violence and racism were the reality of the colonial experience”

Does Britain owe reparations? Dr Shashi Tharoor MP says yes, and it’s hard to disagree with the arguments he made when speaking at the Oxford Union earlier this year. You can watch his full speech below.

“As my colleague the Jamaican High Commissioners pointed out our railways and roads were really built to serve British interests and not those of the local people. But I might add that many countries have built railways and roads without having had to be colonised in order to do so. They were designed to carry raw materials from the Hinterland into the ports to be shipped to Britain, and the fact is that the Indian, or the Jamaican or the other colonial public – their needs were incidental… Britain made all the profits, controlled the technology, supplied all the equipment and absolutely all these benefits came at private enterprise – British private enterprise, at public risk –  Indian public risk.”

“…There have been incidences of racial violence, of looting, of massacres, of bloodshed, of transportation in India’s case, even of one of our last Mughal Emperor. Yes maybe  today’s Britains are not responsible for some of these deprivations, but some of the speakers have pointed with pride to their foreign aid. You’re not responsible for the people starving in Somalia, but you give them aid. Surely the principle of reparations for the wrongs that have been done cannot be denied. It’s been pointed, for example, the dehumanisation of Africans in the Caribbean, the massive psychological damage that has been done, the undermining of social traditions, of property rights, of the authority structures of these societies, all in the interest of British colonialism. And the fact remains that many of today’s problems in these countries, including the persistence, in some cases the creation, of racial and ethnic and religious tensions were the direct result of the colonial experience, so there is a moral debt to be paid.”

“With the greatest possible respect, it’s a bit rich to oppress, enslave, kill, torture and maim people for 200 years and then celebrate the fact that they’re democratic at the end of it. We were denied democracy so we had to snatch it, seize it from you. With the greatest reluctance it was conceded in India’s case after 150 years of British rule and that too with limited franchise.”

“The fact is very simply, we’re not talking about reparations to empower anybody. They’re a tool for you to atone for the wrongs that have been done.”

“We’re talking about the principle of owing reparations, not the fine points of how much is owed and to whom it should be paid. The question is, is there a debt? Does Britain owe reparations? AS far as I’m concerned,the ability to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry, will go [much further] than some percentage of GDP in the form of aid. What is required is accepting the principle that reparations are owed.”

It’s time to rethink the British Empire State of Mind

“For in the last resort, the only important question is, Do you want the British Empire to hold together or do you want it to disintegrate?  And at the bottom of his heart no Englishman does want it to disintegrate.  For, apart from any other consideration, the high standard of life we enjoy in England depends upon our keeping a tight hold on the Empire, particularly the tropical portions of it such as India and Africa.  Under the capitalist system, in order that England may live in comparative comfort, a hundred million Indians must live on the verge of starvation – an evil state of affairs, but you acquiesce in it every time you step into a taxi or eat a plate of strawberries and cream.  The alternative is to throw the Empire overboard and reduce England to a cold and unimportant little island where we should all have to work very hard and live mainly on herrings and potatoes.”

–George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937, p 159)

Today I am officially launching a new campaign – British Empire State of Mind – to challenge Britain’s continuing colonial mentality,  which I believe is the cause of increasing international inequality and xenophobia and racism in the UK. I hope you will join me in getting involved, taking part, or simply supporting the campaign.

Many argue that the British Empire ended in 1997 when the union flag came down in Hong Kong. However, the legacy of this empire lives on and with it a ‘British Empire State of Mind’.

Britain, a tiny island with a population of around 65 million, still holds a very privileged position of power and influence internationally, it has a very self-centric view of the world that continues to elevate it and its people as ‘civilisers’, ‘heroes’ and ‘saviours’, and traditional ‘British’ values, culture and norms as an ideal global standard.

Throughout history this ‘British Empire State of Mind’ and resulting actions has led to the suffering of people the world over, the pilfering of resources and the destruction of our planet. The result today is this: globally we are witnessing increasing political and economic inequality and borders that are closed to people but open to money, and at home in the UK there is a pervasive and growing fear of immigration and xenophobia and racism.

The context

I believe that (largely white) Brits are often (and sometimes unconsciously) ignorant of the inconvenient truth of the impact that Britain has had, and continues to have, on the world, and how this subsequently relates to the experiences of people of colour in the UK. I want to challenge this.

Throughout the media and in daily conversations between people in Britain it’s not uncommon to hear or read the following sentiments in discussions about society, politics and economics:

  • “Immigrants are coming to the UK and stealing our jobs”
  • “Immigrants and foreigners arrive here and dilute our culture with their own languages/food/religion/values”
  • “Immigrants are coming to the UK to live but they should sort out the problems in their own countries – there’s not enough room”
  • “People are poor in developing countries because of their corrupt leaders/lack of resources/lazy populations/fighting with one another”
  • “There’s nothing we can do about poverty in developing countries – it’s not our responsibility”
  • “We’re already doing enough sending them millions of pounds in aid money and sending in our army to help sort them out. It’s nothing to do with us. Charity begins at home.”

Putting to one side for a moment whether or not these statements are a) factually correct or b) patronising/unfair/selfish/racist etc, their foundations are often rooted in ignorance. There is a lack of understanding of the conditions that create global poverty and migration. And there is a lack of understanding of how the actions of the British Empire, with the complicity of British citizens, can be found at the root of a number of man-made global crises as the cause. By putting the problems we see in the world today into the context of our history, realising that these issues are interconnected and looking at them from a variety of different perspectives, we can (hopefully) start to develop a true understanding and empathy for others and realise actually how much influence Britain has had, and continues to have, in shaping these issues.

I’m very aware that information fed to us in the UK by the media/government/education etc often views people of colour and ‘developing countries’ and their inhabitants through a white/western-centric lens, marginalising and disempowering, silencing their voices, manipulating the truth and breeding ignorance.

I believe that achieving global equality will not only require the self-determined ‘development’ of developing countries, but also, in many ways, the underdevelopment and humbling of ‘developed’ nations, Britain included. This will start with examining our actions, our beliefs, what we’ve been told, our experiences and our thoughts.

Britain isn’t alone in this ‘state of mind’, or the influence it wields, it’s one shared by other western European countries, the US, and increasingly other developing global powers, but I’m British and this is my audience.

The event

As part of British Empire State of Mind I am hoping to help coordinate an event that’s not only educational, but transformational. One that fosters empathy and understanding and an ability for the audience to really put themselves in others’ shoes and call for change, rather than simply walking away feeling guilty, angry and helpless – not an easy task…

After an evening of sharing stories and some real listening I’d really like people to come away understanding:

History – The true history of Britain and the British Empire and how the country has benefitted from it (from colonialism and slavery etc).

Today – What’s going on in the world today in terms of global inequality and poverty and how Britain helped create the conditions that caused and continues to perpetuate it now (neocolonialism, war, weapons sales, unfair economics, stereotyping, racism, anti immigration).

How this plays out:

  • In the UK: Fear of immigration, racism and belief that individualism can be pursued without detriment to the global poor, lack of awareness about interconnectedness of countries
  • Around the world: Widening gap between rich and poor, increasing environmental instability, inhumanity, pursuing profit over people
  • To us as individuals: How are individuals are directly affected – including racism, forced migration, impact of climate change etc.

What’s possible? – What’s possible is a world where everyone is recognised as being of equal value and are treated as such, with equal access to opportunity. I believe true equality would, amongst other things, create balance, eradicate poverty, reduce conflict, end environmental destruction and build communities for a world that works for all.

What do we do to make it happen? – Listen, understand, learn, empathise, amplify, question, demand change, share stories.

Possible format

The way I have been thinking that this will work is through the power of stories. Ideally, it would be wonderful to host a series of events with active campaigners (challenging the idea of passive ‘victims’ in developing countries) from around the world and 1st/2nd/3rd/any generation ‘migrants’ in the UK who are or have been impacted by the actions of the UK and the British government and are able and willing to talk about it…

These are just my initial thoughts. I have lots more information and ideas, but I wanted to share the rough outline with you. I want this to be a collaboration and I am well aware that these aren’t my stories to tell – I just want to amplify them for a white, British audience. So far I have come up with concept, carried out research and started to look for, get in contact with and interview people who might have stories to tell (including half of Accra!). I really want to invite anyone who wants to jump on board, contribute, lead, influence and edit the course of the campaign – all feedback, suggestions criticism and input are more than welcome – I’d love to hear what you think. I’m not precious, I just believe that the ultimate end is important.

If this is something you’re passionate about and you want to get involved in in any way (or you know someone who might), or if you think I’m on the wrong track and should be doing something different (or nothing at all!) please do get in touch – you can do so on my Contact page.

You can also follow the campaign (for now) on Twitter – @devtruths and on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/developmenttruths using the hashtag #BESoM.