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done it now, the cat is out of the bag, this is going to be political.

A quotation, forgive an old man this digression:

‘If You Are Not a Liberal When You Are Young, You
Have No Heart, and If You Are Not a Conservative
When Old, You Have No Brain’

Although widely attributed to Winston Churchill, it is probably older than that. When I was 19 I had no empathy with Soviet Communism and became an anarchist, now while I grow older I recognise some hardening of the arteries, but I also begin to  wonder if I am being cheated by destiny while conservative thought lurches violently to the Right and becomes enamoured with Populist demagogues. I cannot cheat ageing but I can reread Marx. And for myself, an insight that Capitalism and Colonialism are surely interlinked, even two sides of the same coin. It goes without saying in most places that Colonialism was and remains a bad thing; it’s not so easy to see that Capitalism can be displaced from its claim to be what must seem to be the only game in town.

Let me explore this duality a little further — I am hoping to show that the methods of anti-colonial struggle can be re-imagined for a decolonisation of art, and artists as having been colonised by the economic power of cultural capitalism as identified by Bourdieu.

Consider how geographic colonisation begins. Traders arriving in this new land find that goods, desirable at home, are priced attractively, better yet these goods are disregarded here and may be bought in by barter for trifles.

The colonist arrives in the trader’s wake with a get-rich-quick mentality, to make their fortune as to be respected in the financial and social values of the home country. Speed being of the essence corners must be cut and troublesome local values must be subjugated to this desire for quick results. Physical force is very soon to arrive particularly when there is a gap in military technology.

The colonist must learn to disparage local cultural norms, impose language, and in particular replace the existing economy and currency with those of the mother country. Here the capital strength of the mother country begins the gravitational squeeze of wealth extraction, movement of wealth away from the colonised country back to the capital markets of the colonist. Local agriculture, viewed as low-tech is replaced by growth of cash crops and any value-add in their processing is removed from the local economy: famine was all too frequent.

One point remains that while colonisation is a crime by one people against another people, capitalism has to be embodied on both sides of the economic relationship: it requires a belief in free will and voluntary action. That this is achieved by economic force — perhaps the threat of starvation — is  generally not spelled out.

An aside: the British ruling classes had until WW1 exploited a colonial relationship with the rest of the country. They then expected the working class in company with the armies of the colonies to fight their wars with the aristocracies of Germany and Austria. When they found that the physical health of these forces was so poor the foundations of the Welfare State began to form. NB Alastair Bonnett, “How the British Working Class Became White: The Symbolic (Re)formation of Racialized Capitalism”

Simultaneously liberation and anti-colonial groups in the Empire struggled with a debate to use their involvement as a bargaining tool for their cause. It would not prove so straightforward for some.

Summary: there are enough parallels between Capitalism and Colonialism for me to explore the Capitalist consumption of Art, and the applicability of methods of de-colonisation to regain an human identity for artists.