15 MAY 1936, Page 23

Where Angells Fear to Tread



SIR NORMAN ANGELL is an expert in exposing illusions. He pictures the political scene as a darkened arena, in which

nations violently blunder into one another because they do not see where they are going ; but lighten the darkness and they will behave like decent citizens. In this book, he tries to reveal the economic facts behind the political phantasies which have been woven around the colonial problem.

First, and most important for his argument, lie dis- tinguishes.political.control of colonies from ownership of their

wealth. Therefore, since it is ownership of wealth that matters, a supply of the materials and command of the markets necessary to a people's well-being does not necessarily follow from political control of the territories which contain these materials and markets. Thus, it is the working of economic exchanges, not of political control, which deter- mines the distribution of wealth, in colonies as elsewhere, and nations lose their share of it, not because they have no colonies, but because they have not the means of exchange with which to acquire colonial products ; this is due, at the present time, to dislocation of trade, and currency restrictions and instability. Further, it is not, as a general rule, true that colonies form profitable export markets, because their standards of life are low ; in the eases where they do offer profitable markets, it is not political control but economic rela- tions which would exist with or without political control that make them profitable. And it is not true that colonies relieve over-population by offering opportunities for emigration : (1) because their low standards of life cannot attract advanced peoples ; (2) because advanced peoples cannot compete with native workers ; (3) because, in any case, colonial products cannot now be produced at an economic price. Equally, it is not true that the have-not nations can be said, in any real sense, to suffer from over-population.

With these arguments, supported by facts and figures with which . no one can quarrel, Sir Norman explodes the myth of the " haves " and the " have-nots, as it is presented by the political leaders of Japan, Italy, and Germany. Thus, if these nations go to war to acquire colonies that will relieve their poverty, they will be going to war for an illusion.

Equally deceived are those politicians of the " have " nations who, in the name of justice, beg them to avert war by making territorial concessions. They would be neither just nor useful.

Sir Norman allows of only one important exception to the truth of his argument. In peace, colonies are not neces- sary to well-being, but in war they may be the only means of securing a safe supply of necessary materials. Therefore, if you wish to make war, it is wise to have colonies, but, in this case, as Sir Norman points out, the plea of the dispos- sessed countries must be we go to war to acquire colonies so that we may go to war. This may be an accurate representa- tion of their case.

The conclusion to be reached from this lucid account of the problem is obvious. (1) If colonies are necessary, under present conditions, as a means of defence, we must organise a peace system in which defence is collectively guaranteed, with all the resources of the member States.

(2) Transfer of territory is unnecessary ; colonial wealth can be best distributed and exploited by observing, in all colonies, the dual principle of the mandate : the interests of native peoples must come first, and equality of economic opportunity to all nations must be guaranteed by an international authority in which the " have-not " nations have their proper part. (3) So that this equality should

This Have and Have-not Business. By Sir Norman Angell. (blemish Hamilton. be.) be real and not ►merely formal, the dispossessed nations must be able, through international trade, to acquire the means of exchange to buy raw materials.

• Sir Norman's solution follows inevitably from his admirable analysis of the problem : and it is the best solution for the problem as Sir Norman, and nearly all Englishmen, present it.

Yet at this point an uneasy suspicion arises that it is not an answer to the real problem, that is, the problem about which wars are going to be made. For consider the conclusion to which it leads. The tremendous expansionist force of the " have-not " nations, the immense preparations they are making, the terrible discipline of will and intellect in the cause of expansion, can all be made innocuous by simple measures which would cost the possessor nations nothing. Yet if this solution were offered to the Fascist countries, it would be laughed to scorn. Indeed, the solution has. in effect, been offered and rejected. In Manchuria, Japan was offered everything which, on Sir Norman's thesis, they could possibly obtain. She preferred to invade Manchuria. In Ethiopia, Italy could have obtained a protectorate which assured her of all the economic gains, if any, she can secure there. She preferred to conquer Ethiopia. Why ? It is not enough to say that these actions are preparations for a further war ; for that one also will be on the imperial theme. Why any war at all ? Sir Norman leads us to the conclusion that national policies are dictated merely by madness and ignor- ance, and in the next great war, as in the last, humanity will be crucified upon a pure illusion.

We can only suggest briefly why this conclusion is false. Firstly, Sir Norman's fundamental premise, that political control is irrelevant to ownership, is not true to fact, especially in Fascist, totalitarian States, where those who own the wealth own the State. But if, in non-Fascist States, this premise is to some extent true, the essential question is : who does in fact own and control the raw materials ? Sir Norman does not ask this question and, having shown that ownership is crucial and political control irrelevant, he produces a solution concerned entirely with political control. And he does not ask why it is that the dispossessed States really must expand, and treats it as an accident of commercial policy that they are without means of exchange. Yet both these facts are aspects of the attempts of modern States to create for them- selves areas of monopoly production, and expansion is the necessary effect of those attempts. To ask such nations, both " haves " and " have-nots," to observe the rights of native peoples and equality of economic opportunity is like asking the Pope to be a Liberal. It is equally a character of such States that their interests are not necessarily those of their " people " : so it is possible that the State should profit by colonisation even though the " nation " does not. Lastly, Sir Norman limits the colonial problem to " colonies " in the English specialised sense of the word. Yet, in spite of the verbal error involved, the colonial problem is as roach, and more, the problem of Australia, China, India, South Africa as of Tanganyika or Eritrea : and the South Africans now know it. It is the problem of expansion by highly industrialised totalitarian States. It is easy for Sir Norman to show that the "colonies" cannot satisfy such demands, but that does not show it is useless or purposeless for them to expand.

These criticisms cannot be developed here : but they suggest that, valuable as Sir Norman's analysis is, it does not solve or examine the real problem, and that any political action based on it must fail, for it merely substitutes a pleasant illusion for an unpleasant one.