REVIEWS      
  Colonialismís Children

Gemma Thomas

$9.00 / Paperback / 242 pages

ISBN 0759603650

1stBooks Library / 2001

Post-Colonial Economic Relations / Colonialism

In the midst of current debates on the merits and drawbacks of globalization, considerable attention has been paid to the plight of "developing" or "third-world countries." Most of the countries of the so-called third world are also former colonies. Their economies were developed expressly to provide raw materials and cheap or forced labor for the "mother" countries, enabling them to chart a rapid path to industrial development. When the "first world" countries finally gave the "third world" its freedom, they left those nations underdeveloped and dependent on expensive imports. From this point of disadvantage, the countries of the "third world" were forced to "develop" themselves to the best of their ability.

In her present treatise, the author, New York Lawyer and political economist Gemma Thomas, expounds on the difficulties faced by previously colonized countries as they attempt to make their economies viable and poses a crucial question for the development of third-world countries, the good conscience of the former colonizers, and the prosperity and peace of the world: Should previously colonized countries continue to use traditional paths to development, or should they be assisted in finding their own way by their former colonial masters?

The author calls for the former colonial powers to be held accountable for the economic hardships faced by the developing world and gives concrete examples of countries that have tried free trade, imposing levies on their natural resource extraction, privatization, including the example of the newly industrialized countries (NICs) such as Brazil and Taiwan. She points out that while these attempts may have brought about some growth, the growth has been uneven in the case of free trade; at the expense of the impoverishment of large sectors of the population in the case of privatization and the NICs; or as in the case of levies, occasioned retaliatory measures by the particular foreign companies involved. While discussing the difficulties of the Cuban foreign policy initiatives on the African continent, she demonstrates the constraints that economic backwardness has imposed on South Africa, emphasizing the unevenness of the development there and the disenfranchisement of the majority black population

In reviewing the uneven growth achieved by free tradeóa growth almost entirely achieved at the expense of the impoverishment of large sectors of the population, Thomas stresses that the hurdles are still innumerable for those former colonies running the belated race to "development," as her studies demonstrate. Throughout the Third World, the very few rich get richer while the poor majority continues to suffer. New paths to development and needs-based diversification are required, but also "first world" assistance if these impoverished countries are ever to chart a successful path to development. Someone must help "colonialismís children," and it is only historically just for that help to come from the former colonial powers, the "colonial fathers" who sired them.