Papua New Guinea a Neo-colonial state
The prophetic words of Ghana’s first President , Kwame Nkrumah, written in 1965 captures Papua New Guinea’s reality today…
THE neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and perhaps its most dangerous stage. In the past it was possible to convert a country upon which a neo-colonial regime had been imposed — Egypt in the nineteenth century is an example — into a colonial territory. Today this process is no longer feasible. Old-fashioned colonialism is by no means entirely abolished. It still constitutes an African problem, but it is everywhere on the retreat. Once a territory has become nominally independent it is no longer possible, as it was in the last century, to reverse the process. Existing colonies may linger on, but no new colonies will be created. In place of colonialism as the main instrument of imperialism we have today neo-colonialism.
The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.
The methods and form of this direction can take various shapes. For example, in an extreme case the troops of the imperial power may garrison the territory of the neo-colonial State and control the government of it [ADF + AFP have frequently been garrisoned in PNG]. More often, however, neo-colonialist control is exercised through economic or monetary means [e.g. huge foreign owned resource extraction, boomerang aid, or concessional loans from ‘friends’ like China]. The neo-colonial State may be obliged to take the manufactured products of the imperialist power to the exclusion of competing products from elsewhere. Control over government policy in the neo-colonial State may be secured by payments towards the cost of running the State [AusAID], by the provision of civil servants in positions where they can dictate policy [e.g. seconded Australian civil servants and academics], and by monetary control over foreign exchange through the imposition of a banking system controlled by the imperial power [e.g. Westpac, ANZ + Bank of PNG, which is groomed by, and run in the economic style of, imperial powers].
Where neo-colonialism exists the power exercising control is often the State which formerly ruled the territory in question [e.g. Australia in PNG], but this is not necessarily so [e.g. China in PNG]. For example, in the case of South Vietnam the former imperial power was France, but neo-colonial control of the State has now gone to the United States. It is possible that neo-colonial control may be exercised by a consortium of financial interests which are not specifically identifiable with any particular State [eg Exxon-Mobil, Rio Tinto, BHP, MCC, Rimbunan Hijau]. The control of the Congo by great international financial concerns is a case in point [in PNG, how much control do foreign financiers wield, the big construction firms, the mining and logging companies, etc].
The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world [and also between the rich elite and the rest of the population within the country].
The struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed.
Neo-colonialism is also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case.
Above all, neo-colonialism, like colonialism before it, postpones the facing of the social issues which will have to be faced by the fully developed sector of the world before the danger of world war can be eliminated or the problem of world poverty resolved.
‘Africa’s Black Star’ is a documentary on Kwame Nkrumah, which plots his revolutionary efforts to free Ghana from dependency, establish an entirely independent economic base, provide free health and education as a human right, stimulate pan-African unity, and the subsequent US-UK conspiracy to bring down his government (who were bad for foreign business) through a military coup: