The Capitalist Way: Lettow-Vorbeck

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Lettow-Vorbeck

Lettow-Vorbeck, who commanded the German forces in East Africa during the late War, has written a story of their campaign. For the English rights of publication he is paid a tidy sum by British interests. Journalism has become a favourite pastime for the German junkers who have lost their jobs for the moment, and, let us hope, permanently. Ludendorf and Tirpitz have earned good money in America by their pens, and we may expect a flood of apologies and memoirs from the discredited Imperialists of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

For the English version of this useless mass of printed stuff, the American and British Empire workers pay directly. But, perhaps, the masses like to read what these bloody murderers have got tell of their orgies of blood spilling.

We must pay tribute to the far-seeing policy of International Capitalism in noting how its press buys these books, reviews them favourably, and thus gives the writers a chance to live comfortably until their dark days are over. The capitalists soon forgive each other their mistakes. It is we workers who keep on hating each other on account of race differences, nationality and colour! We workers! we do not forgive so easily. And it is to the interests of our masters that we should not!

But back to Lettow-Vorbeck and his East Africa campaign. In his story, he tells of the exploits of his black troops, how faithful they were, how courageous and skilful under fire. England also used her black troops, and the whole nasty business shows to what depths Capitalism will descend to maintain its supremacy. Ignorant black men were pitted against their brothers to fight for a cause that was alien to them.

May-be, the exploiting class have not considered the fact that if the blacks have fought so well for an inglorious purpose, they might fight yet better, when properly led and thoroughly aroused, for the economic and social rights, of which they are deprived in their native land.

In the Capitalist league, Smuts has inserted a clause to prevent the natives being trained to the use of firearms. Time will show whether the secret arming of the negroes can be prohibited. The eyes of the Negroes all over the world are turned to South Africa, where the blacks are living under conditions that are more intolerable than those existing in the Southern states of America. South Africa, to-day, is a potential powder plant, which at any moment, may be blown up by the least spark of fire. The Negro delegates will go home from England to tell their people that the British Government can do nothing to remove the unjust restrictions that retard their social and economic progress. This news will only help to intensify the deep hatred existing between the white and black workers, not to mention the spirit of rebellion that is now being fostered by all negroes subject to British Imperial rule. The Negro World, published in New York City, informs its numerous readers in Africa, the West Indies and the Americas of everything of interest that goes on amongst coloured people in every part of the globe. Happily, the policy of the Anglo-Saxon abroad, unlike English diplomacy at home, is driving coloured peoples of all classes and all shades into One Big Union of Revolt.

From the Johannesburg International we glean the fact that Capitalism, through one of its organs, is demanding the removal of the colour bar. And it will be abolished if it is inimical to the selfish interests of the exploiters! Such an event would, doubtless, make the natives grateful to their real oppressors, while the cleavage between them and the white workers would become greater. It is the duty of South African Socialism, if it be genuine, to forestal any such action, or, if it is helpless in the matter, to prove to the natives, by propaganda, that the revolutionary white workers, who are making the fight for freedom, are with them in their struggle for justice.

In the January Liberator, Mary White Ovington, a woman of the Southern aristocracy, we think, declares that the brutalities practiced upon coloured people would be stopped at any time the Southern oligarchy willed it. This clear fact has long been apparent to all close observers of the strife between the races.

The exploiting classes will set black against black, white aginst black, and face right about, if necessary to keep their power. If for nothing more than sheer self-preservation, it is of great moment, now, that the white and coloured workers should get together, to find a real basis of mutual agreement and co-operation in the industrial world.

Socialism should step in to bridge the gulf which has been created between white and coloured workers by Capitalism and its servant, Christianity. There is plenty of work to be done, and no time should be lost, for who knows when the storm will break?–when rivers of blood will flow, bearing the souls of white and black workers into eternity? Then, perhaps, the Anglo-Saxon world will wake up to find, all at once, a thousand Amritsars on its hands!

CLAUDE McKAY

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1940, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.