Skip to main content

Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

See other formats

fited ourselves as well as the native peoples of the colonies. While
they are in their present backward state they cannot provide good
markets for the manufactures of advanced countries; they cannot
make any adequate contribution to the industrial and cultural life
of the world; and even as a source of cheap labour they will be
inefficient and unreliable so long as they remain unhealthy and un-
educated. We need a complete reversal of the mercantilist policy
Let us take a look at the extent of the job which this policy implies
In the first place, the idea of the tropics as a luxuriant region, effort-
lessly producing abundance and riches, is a fable. Almost the only
tropical regions which are prosperous are some of those endowed with
mineral wealth. Soil erosion, absence of necessary mineral salts, pests
and parasites, are common. The tropics are to a large extent still
physically untamed and unequipped. Railways, motor roads, ports
bridges, warehouse and storage facilities, processing plants, marketing
services, darns and reservoirs, power plants, forestry, agricultural and
veterinary services—in most areas these are in their infancy and must
be provided on a generous scale before the colonies can take their
proper place in world economy, where they can act as a stimulus
rather than a drag. In addition, encouragement must be given to
light and secondary industries, for only so can a reasonably balanced
economy grow up in colonial areas.
But human resources are just as important as material resources.
By and large the inhabitants of tropical colonies are miserably
equipped with health, energy, education, and technical skill. The
noble savage, the magnificent human animal endowed with the
health of which civilization has robbed us degenerate whites—that'is
another myth. The tropical peoples as a whole are unhealthy peoples.
In the tropics, vital statistics are very dubious, but we know enough
to say that death- and disease-rates are of a different order of magni-
tude from those which applied science has made possible in the
Western world. To take but a few examples: African infant mortality
ranges from i in 4 to i in 2, as against the i in 15 to r in 25 of
civilized countries; probably every adult negro is infested with
one or ^ more kinds of worms, usually including hookworm, and
often with malaria as well; in some areas up to 90 per cent, of the
population suffers from venereal disease; gross malnutrition as well
as vitamin deficiency is frequent. The white man in the tropics
curses the native for his laziness. But if the native were once rid of
parasitic and infectious disease and given an adequate diet, he would
not merely be more energetic: his entire personality would be