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in the nature of things, be no more than the first step in a
progressive solution of the problem. Capitalist opposition to
such a policy will inevitably create an unstable situation, in
which one of two things must happen. Either the encroach-
ments upon capitalism, which as we have seen are the conse-
quence of such a policy, will be pushed further and further
until they amount to a progressive modification of the sys-
tem and the building up of a new system to take its place;
or the whole policy will have to be abandoned in the face of
the capitalist resistance which it provokes. That resistance
will increasingly take the form of a refusal on the part of the
owners of the means of production to undertake and initiate
production so long as the progressive government is in office.
Hence that government must either surrender, or itself begin
the task of organizing and initiating production.

r, j In a word, the American people are now in

Forward or ' . ,

n 7 p a transitional position. They must either go

back to the anarchic, unregulated, uncon-
trolled capitalism which produced the slump of 1929, or they
must press forward until a larger and larger share in organiz-
ing and directing the economic life of the community is
brought under their control. Can there be the slightest doubt



but that the second of these alternatives alone offers the
American people any prospect of a successful solution of
their problems?

Th C it I- ^ e s Pk esmen of the ruling class tell the
ists Are the ^ Jner ^ can P e ple that any extension of gov-'
jy ernmental activity is a step toward a dictator-

ship. They give awful warnings that Mr.
Roosevelt is attempting to make himself a dictator and that
the American people's only hope of the preservation of
liberty and democracy is to reject him. What hypocritical
nonsense it all is!

What the reactionaries cannot stand about Mr. Roosevelt is
precisely that, for the first time for many years, they have
encountered serious opposition to their own dictatorship!

The capitalist class of America has for so long held undis-
puted sway that any effective opposition to its will seems to it
to be positively blasphemous! Mr. Roosevelt, it is true, has
not challenged the essential domination of the capitalist class,
which depends on its ownership of the means of production.
Indeed, as he has often asserted, he is a supporter of a sys-
tem of the private ownership of the means of production. But
he has found himself impelled, by the very logic of events,
on to the course of attempting to distribute purchasing power
to the mass of the population. And such a course, while it
will actually make the present economic system work far
better for a time, does undoubtedly point toward the progres-
sive modification of that system. This is his unforgivable sin
in the eyes of the ruling class.

There is nothing too bad for them to say of any man who



does not do their bidding. But their opposition has rallied to
Mr. Roosevelt very strong popular forces which might well,
in other circumstances, have themselves opposed him. Thus
fate has decreed that Mr. Roosevelt should become the rally-
ing point behind which the broadest possible coalition of all
the progressive forces of America can mass. His program for
the distribution of purchasing power does offer, as we have
seen, a step in the right direction; it is a step which all these
forces can support. But the American people will, in the end,
be disillusioned and defeated, unless they realize that this
program is only a first step; that moreover, it is a step which
must be retraced unless a second step forward can soon be
added to it.

But that second step forward can hardly be taken without
some realization, at any rate, of what the ultimate destination
of the whole forward march must be. That destination can be
nothing less than the construction of a new economic system
to take the place of the one which is letting us down so badly
and so rapidly. Before, however, we go on to define in detail
the nature of that alternative economic system, we must con-
sider further and in some detail the alternative reactionary
answer to our original question of who is to buy the goods.
For such an alternative reactionary answer does exist.
u r As we have seen, the defeat of the progres-

, * sive forces in America today and the installa-

Another f . . . , . .

j tion of a reactionary administration would al-

Answer. . . . , p , .

most certainly lead, after perhaps a short

and hectic boom, to a new crisis far worse than any preced-
ing one. But this is on the hypothesis that the American capi-



talists, if they were to regain full control of the government,
could find no alternative answer to the question of who is to
buy the goods. I think that in American conditions, and for
reasons to be described in the next chapter, they could find no
such alternative answer. All the same there is an alternative,
reactionary answer to the question, who is to buy the goods.
It is called the Imperialist answer.

Other capitalist classes, notably the British, have given this
answer and have given it with a considerable degree of tem-
porary success. It is possible, in a word, for a capitalist class
to find a market for the goods which its inability to distribute
purchasing power to its own people makes it impossible to
sell at home, by selling them abroad. This is the reactionary
answer to the dilemma of purchasing power. In the next
chapter we shall examine this answer in principle and then
consider its application to the contemporary situation in the
United States.

We shall see that the defeat of the progressive forces in
America would mean, not only the restoration of the very
worst features of capitalism for the American people, but
would also drive America outward upon the world. It would
inevitably set her feet upon the well-trodden, but blood-
soaked, path of imperialist aggression. Thus the result of the
present struggle of forces in America is bound to react pro-
foundly upon the fate of the whole world.


Chapter VIII

The Imperialist Answer

T 9 The employers of various nations, and

Lets Export , , % . . * ,

L r> j i above all the British employers, have given
the Goods! . . r \ . ,

this answer to the question ol who is to buy

the goods. They have said: "If we can't get rid of the stuff
at home to our own people, because their wages are not high
enough to allow them to buy it, let's get rid of it abroad; let's
export it."

It is a simple answer, but it leads to extremely complicated
results. For it leads to the world being combed for markets.
In the first instance, the employers will search the world for
markets for consumers' goods. They will try to get rid of their
huge output of food and clothes and furniture and motorcars
and all the rest of it to foreign buyers. But nowadays there
are whole industries, the function of which is to turn out, not
consumers' goods of this kind, but means of production them-
selves. There are whole factories whose job is to equip other
factories. There are whole types of machines the only purpose
of which is to produce other machines. Indeed, the biggest
and most important industries today are those which turn out,
not consumers' goods, but capital goods or means of produc-
tion call them what you will.



So, very soon it is a question of markets abroad, not only
for consumers' goods, but for capital goods also; not only for
cotton, wheat, motorcars, typewriters and such things as these,
but for looms and spindles, lathes, cranes, machine tools,
blast furnace equipment, power stations, railroad goods, and
the like.

But these capital goods are very expensive. How is the
foreign country going to pay for them? In many cases, the
potential market is in some relatively backward, undeveloped
place such as India, China, or Africa. How are they to pay
for this extremely expensive equipment?
Q j Now arises a very extraordinary device.

17 . The employers and their associates proceed to

Lxpansion r : r

lend to their potential customers the money to

buy the capital goods with! This is called the export of capi-
tal. Therefore the search for markets may be said to proceed
in three stages. First you export consumers' goods, then you
export capital goods, and then you export the capital itself.

When once you have reached this third stage of exporting
the capital itself, the possibility of a fourth stage appears;
and that is to invest your capital in producing something in
the overseas country itself. You may send your capital out,
not merely to pay for capital goods from home, but also to
set up an industry abroad, to sink a mine, or plant a rubber
plantation, or the like. You may begin the process of setting
up the existing economic system somewhere in Africa or

The exact stages through which the process goes do not



matter so much. The essential thing is that each capitalist
country is forced to embark on a general, complex process of
economic expansion. Each country, when it reaches a certain
stage of development, is forced into this process of expansion
unless it can find some other answer to the basic question
"Who is to buy the goods?"

And this process of expansion overseas does provide a
temporary answer to the question; it does enable the present
economic system to carry on much longer than it otherwise
could. But it has extraordinary and, in the end, appalling

For so far we have looked only at the economics of the
process of expansion ; it has a political side, and that political
side has a very well-known name. It is Imperialism.

, . T . This is how Imperialism comes about. When

Imperialism , /. , -,

you are at the first stage, when you are simply

exporting your consumers' goods, there is no very great temp-
tation to try to annex the country to which you are sending
them. But now see what happens as soon as you get to the
second and third stages, when you are exporting capital goods
and the capital to pay for them.

Why then, at once you become frightened for the safety of
your capital. Whoever it is you lend it to, whether it is the
government of some undeveloped region, or some company
which has been organized by the natives of the undeveloped
country, or, more likely, by your own capitalists operating
there in any case, you will be afraid that you will lose your



Perhaps the government to whom you have lent it will
refuse to go on paying the interest? Or perhaps it will he
overthrown by a revolution? Or perhaps some other empire
will come in and annex the country to which you have lent
your money? These worries get even worse when you reach
the fourth stage and begin employing native labor in the
country to which you have exported your capital. For then
your capital has gone permanently overseas; then there is
no question of bringing it back. So you need permanent
political control in order to ensure its safety.

Moreover, once you have begun actually employing native
labor (stage four above) you will need political control of
your market for another reason. You will want to control its*
government so that it passes laws (such as a hut tax for in-
stance, as in the British colony of Kenya) which will force
the natives to go to work for wages in your new mines or
plantations, instead of working for themselves on their own

In any case, and whatever stage of the process of expansion
you have reached, you will want all the markets of the par*
ticular territory for yourself. You will strongly deplore any
tendency for the employers of some other empire to come in
and export their goods, instead of yours, to it; or to send in
their capital, instead of yours, and so get the orders for their
capital goods, instead of yours; or to set up their mines,
rubber plantations or whatnot, instead of yours. It is for this
purpose, above all, that you will want political control of



your overseas market. You will want, to be plain, to annex
your market; to make it part of your empire; to paint it your
particular color on the map.
Th W Id Now, once again, this is no fancy picture,

r .jj no figment of the imagination. This is a de-

rills up. . *\ fiii

scription of what has happened during the

past fifty years, and what is still happening. But nowadays it
is happening with a difference. The world used to be a com-
paratively empty place. There were plenty of markets for the
various empires to annex. There was all Africa ready to be
painted the different colors of the various empires. And
painted it was. This was not a very peaceful or a very pretty
process. The natives had to be subdued in quite vicious little
wars. But it did not involve any major wars between the em<
pires themselves. Sooner or later, however (in the first twenty
years of this century to be exact), the world got filled up.
There were no, or few, eligible markets left unoccupied by
one or another of the great empires. There was no room, or at
any rate not enough room, left to expand into. The world was
all painted one color or another on the map.

By 1914, to be exact again, the great empires, as they grew
and grew, had reached out until almost everywhere their
borders touched each other. But they could not stop growing.
The basic process of expansion, which I have sketched above,
was still going on. The employers could not get rid of
their stuff at home; they still needed ever bigger markets



m L r . What was to happen? What happened was

The Empires _ , n , rni

p jj ., the only thing that could happen. 1 he empires

collided. They went on expanding and expand-
ing until they struck each other. The first collision of the em-
pires took place in 1914; they called it "The Great World
War." But the "First World War" would, I fear, be a more
accurate name for it. For, except in one part of the world, the
same process which generated that war is still at work today.

The first collision of the empires resulted in ten million
people being killed, and tens of millions more being wounded
or dying of hunger and disease. But the empires are all now
growing again. They are mopping up the few bits of the world
which are still left unannexed. Italy has just mopped up the
very last bit of Africa, Abyssinia. Japan is, as I write, trying
to mop up the one great bit of the world which was not fully
possessed by any one empire, China. The empires are still
expanding. They are coming again very near to the point of
collision. When will the empires collide a second time, and
how many people will die in the second collision?

Such are the final consequences of getting out of the diffi-
culty of who is to buy the goods by sending your stuff out of
the country to overseas markets. In political language, peri-
odic world wars are the inevitable consequence of the attempt
to solve the dilemma of purchasing power under our present
economic system by the imperialist method.

It is impossible to understand how and why the world has
got into its present frightful condition unless you understand
the above argument. The events that have happened and are



happening in the world simply do not make sense unless you
realize that at bottom Imperialism is an effort to sell unless
you realize that every capitalist power is driven to seek for
markets all over the world for goods which it cannot sell to
its people at home because they are kept at or near the sub-
sistence level of life.

D . . jL It was my country, Great Britain, which,

BrUamthe _ ,,,,.-, ,. ,

F' t nd under the leadership ot its capitalist class,

^ ' , first gave the imperialist answer to the ques-

Greatest of & _ _ _

,* j tion of who is to buy the goods. Britain was

Modern * J ? [

r * ,. the first country to establish what we call

Imperialisms. . . .

capitalist relations of production. That is to

say, she was the first country in which the mass of the popula-
tion lost their ownership of any considerable amount of the
capital of the country and therefore had to go to work for
wages for the small class into whose hands that capital had
got. No sooner had this particular, and at that time unique,
but now general, way of organizing economic life been estab-
lished in Britain than the inevitable dilemma of who was to
buy the goods arose. It arose with ever-increasing intensity
in Britain between 1870 and 1890, and it was answered, not
in the progressive way; not by any attempt, even, to dis-
tribute additional purchasing power outside the wages system
to the mass of the population; or still less by any attempt to
begin modifying capitalist relations of production, but by
the imperialist way of finding markets for the goods overseas.
As we have just seen, as soon as you begin to do that, you
want not only to find your markets, but to possess them; and



possess them Britain did. Between 1870 and 1898 Britain
acquired 4,754,000 square miles of fresh territory inhabited
by 88,000,000 people, as her colonies.

The War of ^ P tO ^ t * me ^ e ^ r ^^ s ^ governing class
^ . had not been particularly interested in their

empire. But now they began to see that the
only way of keeping their economic system going, and thus
retaining their delightful position at the top of the British
social tree, was not only to retain every colony which they
had got, but to acquire a great many new ones. By now, how-
ever, there were other imperialisms in the field, of which
France and Germany were the chief examples. But Britain
was quite the largest and strongest, and she got most of the
plums. She established by far the largest world empire. In
1914 she had to fight against the younger, more vigorous
German imperialism which was determined to take her em-
pire from Britain, precisely in order to make the British
markets into German markets. But Britain, marshalling a
vast coalition of states, which came to include America, was
able to defeat her German rival and the British Empire, far
from being lost, was greatly extended.

m L n , j For a time it looked as if capitalism could
1 he Defeated . . . . r . _,

p, . not survive in the defeated countries, ror a

time it looked as if the German, Austrian and
other Central European peoples would be able to abolish
capitalist relations of production in their countries would
be able, that is to say, to take the capital out of the hands of
the ruling class and to put it into their own hands. If they



had done this, then the dilemma of purchasing power would
have been solved. It would have been possible to use German,
Austrian and Central European industry to the very full with-
out there being the slightest difficulty in disposing of all the
goods and services which it could produce. The German and
Central European populations themselves would have formed
a limitless market, expanding steadily as their standard of
life rose and rose. There would have been no need whatever
for Germany (or Central Europe generally) to win markets
for herself in other parts of the world. There would have been
no need, in a word, for Germany, and her potential allies
and vassals, to tread the imperialist road of war again.

But by one of the greatest tragedies in human history the
peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, because they were
divided, because they were confused, because they were ill-
led, failed to do away with capitalist relations of production
in the years which followed the war. Therefore they re-
mained wage earners and the capital of their countries re-
mained in the hands of a small class of people. Nothing was
done which could solve the question of who was to buy the

In one part of the world alone, in what was the Czarist em-
pire and what is now the Soviet Union, this question was
solved. The capital of the country was taken out of the hands
of a small class; the people as a whole got hold of it, and,
sure enough, the question of who was to buy the goods was
solved. Whatever troubles and difficulties the Soviet Union
has had, and they have been serious, this particular difficulty,



which so plagues and defeats us in the world outside, has
never even suggested itself. There has never been, during
the whole twenty years of the Soviet Union's existence, the
slightest difficulty in selling at home to the Soviet people
every single thing which Soviet industry and agriculture
could produce. For the Soviet people own the capital of
their country. Therefore their real wages can and do rise
proportionately to the increase in their productive capacity.

s* , But, I repeat, this did not happen in Cen-

Germany s ' F '

Ar . tral Lurope. Ine progressive answer to the

New Attempt \

s* oruestion 01 who was to buy the goods was not

to Conquer . , r , r

*L i?7 i j given. It was not given either in the final form
the World. . _. . . .. . r

of the abolition ol capitalist relations of pro-
duction and the restoration of the ownership of the factories,
mines and land to the whole population; nor was it given even
in the transitional, temporary form of the distribution of ad-
ditional purchasing power to the mass of the population.
Therefore, and with the inevitability of a law of nature, the
other answer, the imperialist answer, had to be given.

German and Central European capitalism lived on; but it
could not live on without markets. Therefore it was committed
to a new attempt to acquire markets all over the world. It was
committed to tread the imperialist road to war again. And
it is Hitler whom destiny has chosen to lead it down this path.

Again, unless you understand that German Fascism is the
marshalling of the German people for one more attempt to
conquer world empire, you will understand little of its real



Hitler, as a matter of fact, wrote it all
down, I will not say clearly, but quite com-
prehensibly if one takes a little trouble, in his
book, Mein Kampf, which has become the bible of the Nazis.
Hitler, it is true, does not even consider and reject the alterna-
tive progressive answer to the question of who is to buy the
goods. I do not think the possibility of answering the question
in this way has ever occurred to him. But he was perfectly
clear that the only other answer was world conquest; and it
is on the process of world conquest that he is now engaged.
Hitler, as a matter of fact, has followed the program which
he laid down for Germany in Mein Kampf step by step up to
the present time. If he is allowed to, he will use the technical
skill and organizing ability of the German people to conquer
first Europe and then the world. And the effect of that would
be to turn the world into one vast concentration camp for
everyone except the ruling class of the German people.

v j Needless to say, however, Hitler will not

Yesterday, _. . . wn ...

rr j rr be allowed to conquer the world. What will
Today, To- .._ _ ,

, happen, if he is not stopped very soon, is that
morrow, the _ _ ._/*, * ' .

n M,. sooner or later he will plunge the world into
Day After . r f * i j u

a new and universal war. If he had been

stopped a few years ago while he was very weak, the job could
have been done very easily and without the risk of war. Today,
I think it could just be done without war. Tomorrow, it will
be possible to do it only by fighting a war, but it would prob-
ably be a short war in which Germany would be quickly de-
feated. But the day after tomorrow, if he is not stopped be-


fore that, it will mean a long and appalling war, in which
much of Europe will be devastated.

That is why everyone in Europe who in the least under-
stands the situation is bending all his energies to induce or
drive the other governments of the world to make a united
stand against Fascist aggression. This attempt would long
ago have succeeded and have saved the world from another
universal war but for the determination of the government of
my country, the British government, to refuse to join the
anti-Fascist alliance. It has refused to do so basically because
it fears that, if you stop Hitler, it may mean the destruction of
German capitalism. And this the British government is not
prepared to countenance. So that it has preferred to risk the
reappearance of its old formidable rival, imperialist Ger-

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Online LibraryJohn StracheyHope in America → online text (page 6 of 12)