Chapter XXV


The white man's burden was supposed to be the colored races, which he must guide and control. But the dark man's burden already is now seen to be the white man who attempts to guide and control him for the white man's benefit. Exploitation of dark races by the white furnishes striking evidence of two facts: the white man's avarice and the dark man's servility. But reversal of these is possible. The white man is capable of being made servile as witness fifty million Germans converted within a decade into slaves of an autocratic state. The colored man is capable of aspirations to mastership, as witness the Japanese nation with astonishing initial success in 1941 hurling itself at the two greatest white man's powers on earth. Unless the white nations change their attitude toward the dark races, a sad disillusionment as to their superiority may await the pale people. The white man in his exploitation of the people with darker skins has exhibited some of his worst ethics as well as bad business.

A strange circumstance in connection with the 110 wars the United States waged against the Indian nations was that the whites failed to learn anything of the cooperative methods of the Indians. These methods possessed not only economic but ethical values. Cooperative organization which existed among their tribes was destroyed by acts of Congresses in the interest of real estate speculators who desired to get the lands of the Indians. The Indians were actually forbidden by law to conduct their affairs cooperatively, because the cooperative method shielded them from those who wanted their lands. Natural cooperative administration of their property, which they employed, protected the Indians. The U. S. Government violated its treaties with these aboriginal people, broke up their cooperative organization, and compelled each Indian to be the lone owner and administrator of his isolated property. Unused to capitalistic laws and methods, he was made victim of his white exploiters. The Indian was robbed, murdered, and brutalized by men who brutalized themselves in the process.

Great business interests, now influential in guiding diplomats in the task of world reconstruction, are concerned not so much for justice for subject races as for customers for export goods, for raw materials, for land to exploit, and for cheap labor. The depressed and depleted countries after War II suffer great need of goods. Big profits are looked for in these foreign lands. Once our pioneer ancestors, when neighbors were in trouble, carried succor without price to the needy. If the world is to win peace and stability this ancient idea must be applied to nations in trouble. The United States has given conspicuous examples of the wisdom of its people in charitable consideration of such troubled countries. This charity has been so mixed with business advantage as to belittle its value. What the world now most needs is good will. The merchant class is too bent upon capitalizing calamity among others rather than assuaging misery.

The thing called reconstruction can not be confined to a limited number of countries. It must aim at world reconstruction, or it will fail in the end. Likewise prosperity can not be limited. To maintain some countries in poverty and want, eventually will spell poor business for the prosperous nations. Democracy also can not be limited. All countries must move on to democracy if the world is to be made safe for all men. The idea of keeping one nation in subjection in order that its wealth may accrue to the advantage of another nation is a basic cause of war and disorder. This ancient imperialistic idea is no longer tenable.

Only one-third of the two and a quarter billion population of the world are white. The other two-thirds are colored. Whites have regarded themselves as superior, although much of their philosophy, ethics, culture, and religion came from the colored people. White races have treated the colored peoples to injustice, inhumanity, insults, humiliation, and trickery, as evidences of white superiority. Exploitation and underpayment of colored labor; enslavement of men, women, and children; life of peonage of millions to make the white man rich represent a dark spot in the fabric of history. The price for all this inequity must be paid. The dark people are piling up a mighty account some day to be settled.

These colored peoples are capable. There is no biological or historic basis for the white man's assumption of superiority. Races have their ups and downs. The colored races once represented the world's best culture--in art, literature, invention, and the humanities. The West taught them the arts of war and profits. The subject people may restore themselves in time. One needs only to look at the Tata steel works in India, greater than any other steel mills in the British Empire--planned, constructed, owned, and administered by Indians--to realize the potentialities of other peoples. The rise of the colored people of Africa, of China, of Japan, and of the rest of the East goes on. Death rate among colored races and birth rate among white races are declining. Instead of being two to one, in a few more years the ratio of colored to white may be four to one. If the white man kills off his civilization with atomic war, the complexion of the world will become dark.

There is a growing sense of distrust and resentment among the dark people against the white. Whites are losing their dark colonies. Should the overwhelming majority decide to make itself the dominant class, they have only to look into history to see how dominance was obtained and how white races have maintained their supremacy. It is a terrible picture, but the dark people perhaps might duplicate it if they tried. White men, women, and children, naked in chains, driven by the lash of a dark overseer, is a reversal of history not pleasant to contemplate. When the whites have depleted and impoverished themselves by one of their ever-recurring wars, the hour of colored supremacy may arrive. Pity the poor whites should retribution strike! Their decadence might meet the sturdy quality of primitive people, the recrudescence of ancient culture, and the overwhelming preponderance of numbers. Calamity only can result from keeping in subjection by other people the colored races of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the islands of the Eastern and Western Seas.

The American Negro continues a problem as his numbers reach 13,000,000. It is not because he is colored that he is discriminated against. It is because he is a minority race which can be kept in subjection. The American ambition is to be able to live without having to work--to live by other people's labor. So long as the colored man can be made to work to promote especially the prosperity and leisure of whites, he may be held in submission.

The calamities envisioned above can not be prevented by a continuation of methods of the past as practiced by the great imperialisms, not by suppressing races by force of arms, nor by mass murder and the dropping of bombs on innocent villages. These methods are done with. The old way of keeping races in subjection is coming to its end. The interracial calamities can be prevented only by the cooperative method. It fulfills two necessities.

First: Cooperation practiced among the colored peoples can improve their economic and cultural conditions, can move them away from prevalent methods of force and power politics, can engender peaceful psychology, and can lead them away from war-making.

Second: By engaging themselves in cooperative action, colored peoples organize their national cooperatives, which become members of the International Cooperative Alliance and thus unite with cooperatives of the white nations. Cooperatives of the forty countries now united in the Alliance represent the first nonpolitical international union for peace. As cooperation is an agency for peace, the international union of cooperatives builds for world solidarity among the races. Already cooperatives of India, China, Japan, North Africa, South Africa, and the colored peoples of Russia are moving toward representation in the Alliance. In the countries of mixed population, such as the United States and France, colored members are found in cooperative societies and some societies are composed wholly of colored members.

Thus the cooperative way offers the engendering of peaceful habits among all races and the international alliance of all races in the interest of peace. Colored people need not only cooperative organizations among themselves, but cooperative organization among their exploiters, which in time brings the two together within the same cooperative body, and these disperse their differences.

Some colonial governments over dark races plan for the ultimate liberation of their subject people; but they claim these people are not yet ready for self-government. In the meantime exploitation goes on and armies are maintained to fight down native uprisings for freedom. The solution of this problem is to let these people have their freedom; and, instead of spending money for an army for suppression, spend the money on friendly educators, advisers, and guides to help them toward self-government. This would be cheaper than soldiers, more humane and reasonable. Enough control may be used to guarantee measures that are best for the natives, rather than best for the imperialists.

For the sake of our children and their children we have need to take seriously the democracy of which we talk. First we must practice it at home and then extend it abroad. It is not sufficient to keep it for ourselves and deny it to other people. The way is pointed by the cooperative method which puts democracy into effect. Exploited peoples can be taught to organize them- selves cooperatively, by means of which they can lift themselves into positions of self-respect and enjoyment of personal dignity. A people with self-respect will not easily subject themselves to the injustices prevailing in colonies under foreign control. They will want freedom. They should be expected to attain freedom by their own efforts, for freedom that is given them is not worth much. People who do things for themselves, who administer their own affairs are ready for freedom. Cooperative experience prepares the way. It is the school of freedom.

The chief value of cooperation, as has been shown, is not the economic advantage. Cooperation promotes better human relations. This is the great result. The cooperative way lifts man into finer ethical and social attitudes toward his fellow men. Economic advantages are not enough. To supply people with meals, home, and government is not all. Sweeter human relationship is the goal. Where evil conditions prevail and wickedness provides rewards, the clever man becomes the dangerous man. Economic prosperity must bring better ethical life or it is not prosperity.

Captains of industry and lords of war, who have cajoled millions of common men of another color, will no longer find them mouldable clay when the cooperative method has penetrated the dark places of the world, when these millions have found themselves, and stand upright with the consciousness of their own dignity and with a sense of brotherhood and loyalty accorded them by the white men of other lands. World cooperative democracy will be realized when cooperative organizations of all countries and of all races are united in their national cooperative leagues and when these national leagues of all countries are federated internationally.

We who have arrogantly proclaimed ourselves the superior people, may be destined in the end to find ourselves humiliated and declared the inferior people unless the world follows the cooperative way. Our children may have to pay the price of our inhumanity to our fellow men. The vision of the fate that awaits their grandchildren might give the white people pause as they realize what they might gain by treating all men justly and with equal humanity. Whatever they do should be done now, for it is already late.

To think and act in justice and friendliness is owed to all men of this day and generation. This includes those whom we have called enemies and whom we have overcome, and those whom we have called inferiors and have abused. For we too have been called enemies; and as to our superiority, there is no better way to prove it than by our humanity to man. The inhumanity we have practiced bears witness to our inferiority. It may be so interpreted in the day of reckoning that may lie in the not far future.

While colored races are making their way to liberty, they should be making use of the cooperative method to that end. This means aversion to war. An important task of the International Cooperative Alliance is to carry teaching of cooperation into the dark places of the world. Cooperative people are peaceful people. This problem of racial antipathies is to be solved by increasing cooperative organization among both colored and white peoples, with a resulting closer mutual integration of their cooperative organizations. If an ultimate clash of arms between these two forces is to be prevented the cooperative way offers the best hope, for it represents the voluntary way rather than the coercive way.

By recognizing the colored peoples as our brothers, we can help them to recognize us as their brothers. This is the way toward reconstruction and peace. It is the way to prevent the race calamity that threatens the world. This subject is discussed in the Author's book, The Cooperative Way.


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.