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Kwame Nkrumah: The Last Stage of Imperialism

Southern Times
August 3, 2012

The Last Stage of Imperialism

From Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965)
The mechanisms of neo-colonialism
Kwame Nkrumah

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[W]ith methodical thoroughness and attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.

Who really rules in such places as Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal or Italy?

On the economic front, a strong factor favouring Western monopolies and acting against the developing world is international capital’s control of the world market, as well as of the prices of commodities bought and sold there.

Still another neo-colonialist trap on the economic front has come to be known as “multilateral aid” through international organisations: the IMF, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association are examples, all, significantly, having US capital as their major backing.

Also demanded and granted are privileges in the cultural field; 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.

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…

In October 1961, a conference of NATO countries was held in Rome to discuss problems of psychological warfare. It appealed for the organisation of combined ideological operations in Afro-Asian countries by all participants.

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In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear.

For the methods of neo-colonialists are subtle and varied.

They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.

Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics.

Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials.

This means, so it 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 objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism.

It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about “freedom”, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.

Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America.

Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after World War II when most countries of that continent were indebted to her.

Since then, with methodical thoroughness and attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.

Who really rules in such places as Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal or Italy?

Lurking behind such questions are the extended tentacles of the Wall Street octopus. And its suction cups and muscular strength are provided by a phenomenon dubbed “The Invisible Government”, arising from Wall Street’s connection with the Pentagon and various intelligence services.

I quote: ‘The Invisible Government…is a loose amorphous grouping of individuals and agencies drawn from many parts of the visible government.

“It is not limited to the Central Intelligence Agency, although the CIA is at its heart. Nor is it confined to the nine other agencies which comprise what is known as the intelligence community: the National Security Council, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, Army Intelligence, Navy Intelligence and Research, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The Invisible Government includes also many other units and agencies, as well as individuals, that appear outwardly to be a normal part of the conventional government. It even encompasses business firms and institutions that are seemingly private…

“An informed citizen might come to suspect that the foreign policy of the United States often works publicly in one direction and secretly through the Invisible Government in just the opposite direction.

“This Invisible Government is a relatively new institution. It came into being as a result of two related factors: the rise of the United States after World War II to a position of pre-eminent world power, and the challenge to that power by Soviet Communism…

“By 1964 the intelligence network had grown into a massive hidden apparatus, secretly employing about 200,000 persons and spending billions of dollars a year.” (“The Invisible Government,” David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, Random House, New York, 1964.)

Here, from the very citadel of neo-colonialism, is a description of the apparatus which now directs all other Western intelligence set-ups either by persuasion or by force.

International Capital

On the economic front, a strong factor favouring Western monopolies and acting against the developing world is international capital’s control of the world market, as well as of the prices of commodities bought and sold there.

From 1951 to 1961, without taking oil into consideration, the general level of prices for primary products fell by 33.l percent, while prices of manufactured goods rose 3.5 percent (within which, machinery and equipment prices rose 31.3 percent).

In that same decade this caused a loss to the Asian, African and Latin American countries, using 1951 prices as a basis, of some US$41 400 million.

In the same period, while the volume of exports from these countries rose, their earnings in foreign exchange from such exports decreased.

Another technique of neo-colonialism is the use of high rates of interest.

Figures from the World Bank for 1962 showed that 71 Asian, African and Latin American countries owed foreign debts of some US$27billion, on which they paid in interest and service charges some US$5b.

Since then, such foreign debts have been estimated as more than £30b in these areas.

In 1961, the interest rates on almost three-quarters of the loans offered by the major imperialist powers amounted to more than five percent, in some cases up to seven or eight percent, while the call-in periods of such loans have been burdensomely short.

While capital worth US$30b was exported to some 56 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”.

Thus, “aid” turns out to be another means of exploitation, a modern method of capital export under a more cosmetic name.

Still another neo-colonialist trap on the economic front has come to be known as “multilateral aid” through international organisations: the IMF, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association are examples, all, significantly, having US 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.

As for the alleged development, between 1960 and mid-1963 the International Development Association promised a total of US$500m to applicants, out of which only US$70m was actually received.

Invisible Trade

Nor is the whole story of “aid” contained in figures, for 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; to supply raw materials to the donor; and use of such funds 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 percent of ocean shipping is controlled by imperialist countries.

Net annual freight expenses incurred by Asia, Africa and Latin America amount to no less than an estimated US$1.6b. This is over and above all other profits and interest payments.

As for insurance payments, in 1961 alone these amounted to an unfavourable balance in Asia, Africa and Latin America of some additional US$370m.

The Labour Factor

Having waded through all this, however, we have begun to understand only the basic methods of neo-colonialism. The full extent of its inventiveness is far from exhausted.

In the labour field, for example, imperialism operates through labour arms like the Social Democratic parties of Europe led by the British Labour Party, and through such instruments as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), now apparently being superseded by the New York Africa-American Labour Center (AALC) under AFL-CIO chief George Meany and the well-known CIA man in labour’s top echelons, Irving Brown.

In 1945, out of the euphoria of anti-fascist victory, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) had been formed, including all world labour except the US American Federation of Labor (AFL).

By 1949, however, led by the British Trade Union Congress (TUC), a number of pro-imperialist labour bodies in the West broke away from the WFTU over the issue of anti-colonialist liberation, and set up the ICFTU.

For ten years it continued under British TUC leadership.

Its record in Africa, Asia and Latin America could gratify only the big international monopolies which were extracting super-profits from those areas.

Elsewhere, labour, organised into political parties of which the British Labour Party is a leading and typical example, has shown a similar aptitude for encouraging “Labour-management co-operation to expand…capital investment in African nations.”

Enter the Coups

But as the struggle sharpens, even these measures of neo-colonialism are proving too mild.

So Africa, Asia and Latin America have begun to experience a round of coups d’etat or would-be coups, together with a series of political assassinations.

The imperialists have made widespread and wily use of ideological and cultural weapons in the form of intrigues, manoeuvres and slander campaigns.

Some of these methods used by neo-colonialists to slip past our guard must now be examined.

The first is retention by the departing colonialists of various kinds of privileges which infringe on our sovereignty: that of setting up military bases or stationing troops in former colonies and the supplying of “advisers” of one sort or another.

Sometimes a number of “rights” are demanded: land concessions, prospecting rights for minerals and/or oil; the “right” to collect customs, to carry out administration, to issue paper money; to be exempt from customs duties and/or taxes for expatriate enterprises; and, above all, the ‘right’ to provide “aid”.

Media and Culture

Also demanded and granted are privileges in the cultural field; 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.

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 international 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”!

Perhaps one of the most insidious methods of the neo-colonialists is evangelism.

Following the liberation movement there has been a veritable riptide of religious sects, the overwhelming majority of them American.

Yet even evangelism and the cinema are only two twigs on a much bigger tree.

Dating from the end of 1961, the U.S. has actively developed a huge ideological plan for invading the so-called Third World, utilising all its facilities from press and radio to the Peace Corps.

During 1962 and 1963 a number of international conferences to this end were held in several places, such as Nicosia in Cyprus, San Jose in Costa Rica, and Lagos in Nigeria.

Participants included the CIA, the US Information Agency, the Pentagon, the International Development Agency, the Peace Corps and others.

Programmes were drawn up which included the systematic use of US citizens abroad in virtual intelligence activities and propaganda work.

In October 1961, a conference of NATO countries was held in Rome to discuss problems of psychological warfare. It appealed for the organisation of combined ideological operations in Afro-Asian countries by all participants.

In May and June 1962 a seminar was convened by the US in Vienna on ideological warfare. It adopted a secret decision to engage in a propaganda offensive against the developing countries along lines laid down by the US.

It was agreed that NATO propaganda agencies would, in practice if not in the public eye, keep in close contact with US embassies in their respective countries.

MRA and the Peace Corps

Among instruments of such Western psychological warfare are numbered the intelligence agencies of Western countries, most significantly Moral Re-Armament, the Peace Corps and the United States Information Agency.

Moral Re-Armament is an organisation founded in 1938 by the American, Frank Buchman.

In the last days before World War II, it advocated the appeasement of Hitler, often extolling Himmler, the Gestapo chief.

In Africa, MRA incursions began at the end of World War II.

Against the big anti-colonial upsurge that followed victory in 1945, MRA spent millions advocating collaboration between the forces oppressing the African peoples and those same peoples.

It is not without significance that Moise Tshombe and Joseph Kasavubu of Congo are both MRA supporters.

George Seldes, in his book “One Thousand Americans”, characterised MRA as a fascist organisation “subsidised by…Fascists, and with a long record of collaboration with Fascists the world over…

This description is supported by the active participation in MRA of people like General Carpentier, former commander of NATO land forces, and General Ho Ying-chin, one of Chiang Kai-shek’s top generals.

To cap this, several newspapers, some of them in the Western world, have claimed that MRA is actually subsidised by the CIA.

When MRA’s influence began to fail, some new instrument to cover the ideological arena was desired.

It came in the establishment of the American Peace Corps in 1961 by President John Kennedy, with Sargent Shriver, Jr, his brother-in-law, in charge.

Shriver, a millionaire who made his pile in land speculation, was also known as the friend, confidante and co-worker of the former head of the CIA, Allen Dulles. These two had worked together in both the Office of Strategic Services (the war-time intelligence agency) and in the CIA.

Shriver’s record makes a mockery of President Kennedy’s alleged instruction to Shriver to “keep the CIA out of the Peace Corps”.

So does the fact that, although the Peace Corps is advertised as a voluntary organisation, all its members are carefully screened by the FBI.

Since its creation in 1961, members of the Peace Corps have been exposed and expelled from many African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries for acts of subversion.

Indonesia, Tanzania, the Philippines, and even pro-West countries like Turkey have complained of its activities.

However, perhaps the chief executor of US psychological warfare is the United States Information Agency (USIA).

Even for the wealthiest nation on earth, the US lavishes an unusual amount of men, materials and money on this vehicle for its neo-colonial aims.

The USIA is staffed by some 12,000 persons to the tune of more than US$130m a year.

It has more than 70 staffs working on publications abroad. Of its network comprising 110 radio stations, 60 are outside the US. Programmes are broadcast for Africa by American stations in Morocco, Eritrea, Liberia, Crete, and Barcelona, Spain, as well as from off-shore stations on American ships.

In Africa alone, the USIA transmits about 30 territorial and national radio programmes whose content glorifies the US while attempting to discredit countries with an independent foreign policy.

The USIA boasts more than 120 branches in about 100 countries, 50 of which are in Africa alone. It has 250 centres in foreign countries, each of which is usually associated with a library.

It employs about 200 cinemas and 8,000 projectors.

This agency is directed by a central body which operates in the name of the US President, planning and co-ordinating its activities in close touch with the Pentagon, CIA and other Cold War agencies, including even armed forces intelligence centres.

In developing countries, the USIA actively tries to prevent expansion of national media of information so as itself to capture the market-place of ideas.

It spends huge sums for publication and distribution of about 60 newspapers and magazines in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

To ensure its agency a complete monopoly in propaganda, for instance, many agreements for economic co-operation offered by the US include a demand that Americans be granted preferential rights to disseminate information.

At the same time, in trying to close the new nations to other sources of information, it employs other pressures. For instance, after agreeing to set up USIA information centres in their countries, both Togo and Congo (Leopoldville) originally hoped to follow a non-aligned path and permit Russian information centres as a balance.

But Washington threatened to stop all aid, thereby forcing these two countries to renounce their plan.

Unbiased studies of the USIA by such authorities as Dr R. Holt of Princeton University, Retired Colonel R. Van de Velde, former intelligence agents Murril Dayer, Wilson Dizard and others, have all called attention to the close ties between this agency and US Intelligence.

For example, Deputy Director Donald M. Wilson was a political intelligence agent in the US Army. Assistant Director for Europe, Joseph Philips, was a successful espionage agent in several Eastern European countries.

USIA is expected to analyse the situation in each country, making recommendations to its embassy, thereby to its Government, about changes that can tip the local balance in US favour.

Secondly, it organises networks of monitors for radio broadcasts and telephone conversations, while recruiting informers from government offices. It also hires people to distribute US propaganda.

Thirdly, it collects secret information with special reference to defence and economy, as a means of eliminating its international military and economic competitors.

Fourthly, it buys its way into local publications to influence their policies, of which Latin America furnishes numerous examples.

It has been active in bribing public figures, for example in Kenya and Tunisia. Finally, it finances, directs and often supplies with arms all anti-neutralist forces in the developing countries, witness Tshombe in Congo (Leopoldville) and Pak Hung Ji in South Korea.

In a word, with virtually unlimited finances, there seem no bounds to its inventiveness in subversion.

A New Business Corps

One of the most recent developments in neo-colonialist strategy is the suggested establishment of a Businessmen Corps which will, like the Peace Corps, act in developing countries.

In an article on “US Intelligence and the Monopolies” in International Affairs (January 1965), V. Chernyavsky wrote: “There can hardly be any doubt that this Corps is a new US intelligence organisation created on the initiative of the American monopolies to use Big Business for espionage.

“It is by no means unusual for US Intelligence to set up its own business firms which are merely thinly disguised espionage centres.”

For example, according to Chernyavsky, the CIA set up a firm in Taiwan known as Western Enterprises Inc. Under this cover it sends spies and saboteurs to South China.

The New Asia Trading Company, a CIA firm in India, has also helped to camouflage US intelligence agents operating in Southeast Asia.

A Budding Future

Such is the catalogue of neo-colonialism’s activities and methods in our time.

Upon reading it, the faint-hearted might come to feel that they must give up in despair before such an array of apparent power and seemingly inexhaustible resources.

Fortunately, however, history furnishes innumerable proofs of one of its own major laws; that the budding future is always stronger than the withering past.

This has been amply demonstrated during every major revolution throughout history.

The American Revolution of 1776 struggled through to victory over a tangle of inefficiency, mismanagement, corruption, outright subversion and counter-revolution the like of which has been repeated to some degree in every subsequent revolution to date.

The Russian Revolution during the period of Intervention (1917-1922) appeared to be dying on its feet.

The Chinese Revolution at one time was forced to pull out of its existing bases, lock stock and barrel, and make the unprecedented Long March; yet it triumphed.

Imperialist white mercenaries who dropped so confidently out of the skies on Stanleyville after a plane trip from Ascension Island thought that their job would be “duck soup”. Yet, till now, the nationalist forces of Congo (Leopoldville) continue to fight their way forward. They do not talk of if they will win, but only of when.

Asia provides a further example of the strength of a people’s will to determine their own future.

In South Vietnam “special warfare” is being fought to hold back the tide of revolutionary change. “Special warfare” is a concept of General Maxwell Taylor and a military extension of the creed of John Foster Dulles: let Asians fight Asians.

Briefly, the technique is for the foreign power to supply the money, aircraft, military equipment of all kinds, and the strategic and tactical command from a General Staff down to officer “advisers”, while the troops of the puppet government bear the brunt of the fighting.

Yet in spite of bombing raids and the immense build-up of foreign strength in the area, the people of both North and South Vietnam are proving to be unconquerable.

In other parts of Asia, in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, and now the Philippines, Thailand and Burma, the peoples of ex-colonial countries have stood firm and are winning battles against the allegedly superior imperialist enemy.

In Latin America, despite “final” punitive expeditions, the growing armed insurrections in Colombia, Venezuela and other countries continue to consolidate gains.

In Africa, we in Ghana have withstood all efforts by imperialism and its agents; Tanzania has nipped subversive plots in the bud, as have Brazzaville, Uganda and Kenya.

The struggle rages back and forth.

The surging popular forces may still be hampered by colonialist legacies, but nonetheless they advance inexorably.

All these examples prove beyond doubt that neo-colonialism is not a sign of imperialism’s strength but rather of its last hideous gasp.

It testifies to its inability to rule any longer by old methods.

Deciding for Freedom

This means that neo-colonialism can and will be defeated. How can this be done?

Thus far, all the methods of neo-colonialists have pointed in one direction, the ancient, accepted one of all minority ruling classes throughout history — divide and rule.

Quite obviously, therefore, unity is the first requisite for destroying neo-colonialism.

Primary and basic is the need for an all-union government on the much divided continent of Africa.

Along with that, a strengthening of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation and the spirit of Bandung is already under way. We must also seek the adherence on an increasingly formal basis of our Latin American brothers.

Finally, we must encourage and utilise to the full those still all too few yet growing instances of support for liberation and anti-colonialism inside the imperialist world itself.

To carry out such a political programme, we must all back it with national plans designed to strengthen ourselves as independent nations.

An external condition for such independent development is neutrality or political non-alignment. This has been expressed in two conferences of Non-Aligned Nations.

And the preconditions for all this, to which lip service is often paid but activity seldom directed, is to develop ideological clarity among the anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, pro-liberation masses of our continents.

They, and they alone, make, maintain or break revolutions.

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.

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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  1. Charles
    August 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    You are absolutely right.The process of indoctrination and the total manipulation of news,the people in my country ,including myself,are uninformed,and miseducated from
    cradle to grave.Our # 1 problem is our lack of network with other individuals and organizations in other countries.Alliances need to be formed between people,not governments.Truth always prevail.NO decent human being want to see the continual
    suffering of other human beings any where on earth because of the selfish need of a
    few for power and greed.
    Side Note: I was baffled why someone would spend millions,to get a job that pays less than
    they spend campaigning for it……….not any more

    • richardrozoff
      August 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks. The worldwide web has provided the mechanism for an informed, connected international resistance, one which, if focused and disciplined, could go a long way toward exposing and even thwarting Western plans for global military (and through the military, political) domination.
      But that presupposes people sometimes subordinate their own lists of particular domestic demands to prioritize a common international agenda.

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