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Thursday, June 21, 2012

My African Journey; Churchill and State socialism

Even smart people make mistakes.

by StFerdIII

 Churchill toured the British protectorates of East Africa, from Mombasa in modern day Kenya, to Cairo and all along the Great Lakes and the Nile basin in 1908. In 1909 he published his diary writings from that trip. As with most self-produced Churchilliana, the work is very well written, lucid, apposite, full of charming details, vivid scenes of the African hinterland and burgeoning urban development, spiced with stories, anecdotes and as one would expect from Churchill, opinions on the political-economy, race relations and the future of East Africa.

It does come as a surprise, that Churchill who in 1908 was in the midst of his 'Liberal', 'social reform' phase of career development, advocated state socialism to develop British possessions in Africa. He rejects outright the 'criminality' of capital, big firms and Western oriented investors who in his words, will only take capital and profits out of Africa, and leave the Africans mired in neglected oppression.

“...Uganda. And even if the country is more rapidly developed by these agencies [private business], the profits will not go to the Government and people of Uganda, to be used in fostering new industries, but to divers persons across the sea, who have no concern, other than purely commercial, in its fortunes. This is not to advocate the arbitrary exclusion of private capital and enterprise from Uganda. Carefully directed and narrowly controlled opportunities for their activities will no doubt occur. But the natural resources of the country should, as far as possible, be developed by the Government itself, even though that may involve the assumption of many new functions.” [p. 123]

This sounds like the gibberish one would expect from protectionists, and anti-capitalist zealots. It is hard to know why Churchill would support state-directed socialism in 1908. Certainly Britain's rise to world dominance highlights the benefits and profits in human development and in society, of a free political-economy and trade. But he persists:

“Indeed, it would be hard to find a country where the conditions were more favourable than in Uganda to a practical experiment in State Socialism. The land is rich; the people pacific and industrious. There are no great differences between class and class.” [ibid]

So Winston how has state socialism worked out in the past 100 years ? I wonder if anyone who has toured the Great Lakes area today and viewed the unvarnished power of the state, and the depressing lack of economic growth, political plurality, sanitation, education and human freedom, would find much which is accurate in Churchill's declarations that government must manage East Africa's development. State socialism, corruption, nepotism, along with inter-tribal war, Islamic non-culture, and Jihad; have destroyed much of Africa's potential. This says nothing about the $2 Trillion wasted by Western agencies on 'foreign aid', useless World Bank projects and UN distortions in all manner of markets and politics.

Churchill gets closer to what Africa needed and what is sorely missing today – Western private capital, charity, and the teaching to Africans of how to build a pluralist, capitalist-based, freedom-guaranteed society:

“They [Christian agencies and the British] have built many excellent schools and thousands of young Baganda [Uganda's main tribe] are being taught to read and write in their own language. The whole country is dotted with subsidiary mission stations, each one a center of philanthropic and Christian effort. There are good hospitals, with skillful doctors and nurses....Technical education is now being added to these services...” [p. 115]


“More than two hundred thousand natives are able to read and write. More than one hundred thousand have embraced the Christian faith. There is a Court, there are Regents and Ministers and nobles, there is a regular system of native law and tribunals; there is discipline, there is industry, there is culture, there is peace.” [p. 87]

For the modern sneering Marxist and multi-cultural post -modern, and in the cult of Obama worship who lied about his parents and grandparents being tortured by the British; 'colonial' rule was a program dedicated to greed, rape, slaughter and mineral extraction - odious, racist, oppressive, and without any redeeming features whatsoever. The facts of history tell another story.

Churchill travelled along a private railway; in a private carriage; surrounded by privately funded aides and help; ushered into private boats, which glided along privately funded river and lake systems, bordered by privately developed and owned farms, leading to urbanizing centres financed by private capital and industry which connected the supply of agro-products and other manufactures with consumer markets. It is surely quite odd that Churchill the supposed advocate of 'markets', airily surmised as he wandered around in an East Africa increasingly built on private efforts, that the 'state' must manage all affairs of political-economic formation and evolution. Maybe it was all due to the 'reforming' zeal and zeitgeist of the times. Good intentions which usually go horribly wrong.