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Post by sol_drethedon on Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:01 pm

Imperialism and the Colonization of Uganda

1. Imperialism at a Stage of Capitalism

The forces that were engulfing Uganda were not accidental. They were real forces representing real interests. These interests had arisen historically in Europe under definite material conditions. The rise of the capitalist mode of production from the earlier 'primitive accumulation' had been consolidated first in England, then the continental Europe and the U.S.A. Japan at this stage was undergoing its own 'primitive accumulation' and a capitalist transformation was underway. The remainder of the globe was becoming deeply enmeshed in these new developments. In order to understand them we should look at the real path they implied.

In his study of the capitalist mode of production, Marx formulated a number of laws which he regarded as fundamental as fundamental to the operation of the system. Whereas feudalism feudalism led to trade based on plunder of outlying lands and peoples, early capitalism operated on the basis of releasing the productive forces in Europe and introducing new production forces there, and in distant lands, based on exchange value. The real creator of value in the process was the laborer. He created new value and transferred old valuer to the product. Of the new value he created, he was paid part as a wage which was only sufficient to meet his subsistence needs and those of his family. The other part, surplus value was, was appropriated by the capitalist, who did not work but owned the means of production which enabled him to exploit the laborer.

Marx pointed out that in this process of production the old values which were materialized in machinery, buildings, raw and auxiliary materials which he called constant capital). This tendency had the dialectical result of reducing the rate of profit due to the capitalist. The capitalist responded to this tendency by intensifying the exploitation of the working class through the introduction of better machinery in order to pay still lower total wages, but this step again had the tendency to lower the rate of profit. After reducing labor to a minimum, possible by introducing new machinery, he had only one alternative: to reduce the costs of constsnt capital, and these were the costs of production of raw and auxiliary materials and of food products. But the costs of these products at home tended to rise with the development of capitalism and particularly when land was monopolized by a landlord class who insisted on an absolute rent.

The question of obtaining the cheapest raw and auxiliary materials was therefore of crucial importance to the capitalist, for as Marx emphasized:

"The value of raw and auxiliary materials passes entirely and all at one time into the value of the product in the manufacture of which they are consumed, while elements of fixed capital transfer their value to the product only gradually in proportion to their tear and wear. It follows that the price of the product is influenced far more by the price of raw materials than that of fixed capital Other conditions being equal, the rate of profit therefore falls and rises inversely to the price of raw materials. This shows among other things, how important the price of raw materials is  for industrial countries."

Elsewhere Marx also points out that the cheapening of the necessities of life 'for which the variable (wage) is exchanged' tends to raise the rate of profit by increasing the rate of surplus value,and in this way permits expansion of the scale of production and hastens the process of accumulation. To obtain materials at the cheapest price, the capitalist therefore engages in foreign trade with other countries where labor is cheaper than the industrial country, and also in colonial production and trade, where capitals invested therein yield higher rates of profit for the simple reason that the rate of profit is higher there due to backward development,and likewise the exploitation of labor, because of the use of slaves, coolies etc.

So long as England was the sole 'workshop of the world' , she obtained cheap raw materials from continental Europe, India, America and the West Indies in exchange for her cheap manufactured goods. But with the development of capitalism in continental Europe, and in particular Germany and the U.S.A around the 1870s, England's position came under fire. Moreover the technical revolution in the processes of iron and steel production, made possible by electricity, and the new chemical industry, enabled these products and others dependent on them to be produced very cheaply. The dialectical result was the accelerated concentration of capital in fewer hands, thus creating the basis of monopolies to merge in the three countries around the 1880s.

These developments attracted the attention of many people, among them Lenin, who in his booklet of imperialism,  pointed out that the tendency towards concentration of in capitalist production which Marx had studied had led to a new stage of capitalism --imperialism. Imperialism had its roots in the contradictory development of capitalism itself. Now capitalism could only develop on the basis of monopolies owned and controlled by a new stratum of the bourgeoisie, the financial oligarchy, which had established interlocked control of monopolistic industry and banks. Finance capital which they now controlled could only be profitably utilized on the basis of its export to backward lands, and this was because capital in the advanced capitalist countries was 'over ripe'.

'In these backward countries, profits are usually high because capital is scarce, the price of land is relatively low, wages are low, raw materials are cheap. The export of capital is made possible by a number of backward countries having already been drawn into the capitalist intercourse'.

The need for imperialist countries to export capital, in order to produce cheap raw materials and establish a market for their cheap manufacturers therefore lay behind their struggle 'what', as Lenin pointed out 'has remained the uncolonized world'.

At the Berlin conference of 1885, the scramble for Africa was sealed in a number of treaties, including the Congo Basin Treaties of 1890, and the Convention of St. German -en-Lave of 1919, under which Britain, Belgium, Japan and Portugal guaranteed each other equality of access to the raw materials and the markets of the whole region, including Uganda. These treaties were supplemented by the Anglo-French Convention of 1898, which extended access of French colonies in West Africa to Britain in return for French access to the Congo Basin and those territories in Britain's sphere. Although this opened up East Africa to other imperialist powers, British hegemony over the entire area had been assured. As one writer has observed:

"During the twenties British manufacturers and merchants were happy enough with the situation because they were still able to compete successfully and the reciprocal privileges accorded them in the rest of the zone offset the effects of competition in the British territories. Their position inside the latter was also reinforced by advantages of language and contacts, not to mention the Government's commitment to buy British, which was effected through the work of crown agents in London."

Thus the British sphere of influence over Uganda and other parts of East Africa was assured under this partition and division. The treaties and conventions confirmed it. What remained was to establish colonial  administration to enable the export of British capital and exploitation of cheap labor for the production of raw materials and food products. The IBEAC as we have seen, had been charged with assuring British interests. Lugard had been charged with the administration of Uganda by the company. As we have note,  he had taken a position with the Ingleza faction and deprived Kabaka Mwanga of real power over his kingdom. Now Mwanga was just a puppet at the mercy of British imperialism. His katikkiro(prime minister) and ministers were directly in the service of British interests. What remained was for Lugard to declare Uganda a 'protectorate'.


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