On Social Imperialism (Reply to dms)

Rakesh Bhandari rakeshb at stanford.edu
Tue Sep 30 16:01:44 MDT 2003

Huato quotes Bairoch:

"  As a general rule, countries that had very few economic ties with
the Third World fared better  than the large colonial powers.

  In  Late Victorian Holocausts Mike Davis presents an argument as to
why colonialism was an important factor in the industrialization of
even apparently non imperial countries :

"Britain earned huge annual surpluses in her transactions with India and China
that allowed her to sustain equally large deficits with the US, Germany and the
white Dominions. True, Britain also enjoyed invisible earnings from shipping,
insurance, banking and foreign investment but without Asia, which generated 73
percent of British trade credit in 1910, Anthony Latham argues, Britain
'presumably would have been forced to abandon free trade' while her trading
partners would have been forced to slow down their own rates of
industrialization. The liberal world economy might otherwise have fragmented
into autarkic trading blocs, as it did during the 1930s

"'The US and industrial Europe, in particular Germany, were able to continue
their policy of tariff protection only because of Britain's surplus with Asia.
Without the Asian surplus, Britain would no longer have been able to subsidise
their growth. So what emerges is that Asia in general, but India and China in
particular, far from being peripheral to the evolution of the international
economy at this time, were in fact crucial Without the surpluses which Britain
was able to earn there, the whole pattern of international economic development
would been been severely constrained.'

"India, of course, was the greatest captive market in world history, rising rom
third to first place among consumers of British exports in the quarter century
after 1870. 'British rulers,' writes Marcello de Cecco in his study of the
Victorian gold standard system, 'deliberately prevented Indians from becoming
skilled mechanics, refused contracts to Indian firms which produced materials
that could be got from Britain, and generally hindered the formation of an
autonomous industrial structure in India.' Thanks to a 'government stores
policy that reserved most govt purchases to British products and by the
monopoly of British agency houses in organizing the import-export trade,' India
was forced to absorb Britain's surplus of increasingly obsolescent and non
competitive industrial exports. By 1910, this included 2/5ths of the UK's
finished cotton goods and 3/5ths of its exports of electrical products, railway
equipment, books and pharmaceuticals."

Does Barioch express empirical or logical criticisms of this argument?


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