The struggle for Africa 2

Having lost, or about to lose, its colonial territories in Asia, Europe must hang on to Africa as its supplier of raw materials and export market, Ross argues. The geopolitical struggle for limited resources requires maintaining hegemony at all costs, his dissociation from the usual supremacist positions notwithstanding.

Ross’s essay ‘Das schwarze Weltproblem’ (see: The struggle for Africa 1) provides the background to the question of the so-called Negerfrage, by which Ross meant the position of African Americans in American society. What he considered the biggest problem is African Americans’ refusal to integrate into its dominant, white culture and instead become African. In ch. 60 of his book Amerikas Schicksalsstunde (1935) Ross therefore proposed his own, segregative ‘solution’: concentrating a part of the African American population in a southern state or two and deporting the rest to the West Indies. This measure’s harshness is reinforced by its contrast with Ross’s statement, in the same book, that the “brown race” was the only and truly “American race”.

Yet the resoluteness of his proposal was implicit in the last paragraph of the referenced chapter ‘Spirituals’, in the abovementioned book, in which Ross relates a visit to a black church service. Pondering over what he had just seen and heard he concludes that African Americans’ power of faith is, as yet, focused on the hereafter. But nobody—that is, no white person—knows towards what it will reorient in the future. As the black church has managed to slip away from white control entirely, Ross suggests that it may well pose a threat. This sense of threat is then continued in the subsequent chapter: now that slavery has virtually disappeared from living memory, the call to put equal rights into practice (and not in an Amendment only) will become louder and more violent.1

Written during Ross’s 1933-1935 sojourn in the United States, the referenced article’s argument overlaps with yet also differs from other articles that were included in Amerikas Schicksalsstunde, an instance of the inconsistencies, rather than advanced insight, in his writings. But the major difference the article reveals is Ross’s self-presentation as an avowed realist who has no illusions about the superiority of one race or country over another. With the impending loss of colonial Asia, what counts is to make sure that an overpopulated Europe will continue to have access to sufficient raw materials and food as well as to a market for its finished products. This is a geopolitical struggle that puts Europe’s self-serving interests first and requires it to hold on unwaveringly to the “Fiktion” that the white race is superior and therefore designated to keep African races in their “primitive” level of culture. In other words, African races are not inferior; they just happen to live in Africa, where they must suffer the subjection to European rule. It is for that reason, Ross argues, that America’s pan-Africanist movement must be checked, because it threatens to awaken racial consciousness among black populations in Africa. And that, in its turn, would eventually endanger Europe’s business, hegemony, and survival. Ross therefore advocates a strict separation between the black populations of America and Africa.

Nico de Klerk

Colin Ross. Spirituals. In: Amerikas Schicksalsstunde. Die Vereinigten Staaten zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur. 12. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1942 [1935]; 140-143.

Topic: Race
Case: American journeys


1 Colin Ross. Der Sohn des Sklaven und die Enkelin des Sklavenhalters. In: Amerikas Schicksalsstunde. Die Vereinigten Staaten zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur. 12. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1942 [1935]; 144-147. See Library.

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