Racism: The Two Faces of Empire
George Orwell was an exception. With the prescience that made him one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, he wrote on this issue just as the war was about to begin, with an article, published in Adelphi magazine in July 1939, entitled, ‘Not Counting Niggers’. Seventy years later it remains a classic. Orwell’s essay was provoked by a much-discussed book published in the same year, Union Now, by an American writer Clarence K. Streit, who argued that the only way to combat the dictators was for the world’s democracies to form a bloc, a United States of Democratic Countries. They would share a common government, currency and completely free internal trade. Such a bloc would so unnerve the dictators that they would crumble before a shot was fired. Streit’s 15 democracies included the US, France, Britain, the self-governing dominions of the British Empire and the smaller European democracies. All 15 were ‘white’ countries with dependencies full of colonial peoples, including the US which then ruled the Philippines.
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