Courtesy Reuters

Education for Self-Government

THE core of the difference between the American and the British approach to British colonial problems lies in the American belief that the interests of the colonies require that they be given self-government either immediately or in the fairly near future in accordance with a stated schedule. The British answer is an invitation to look more closely at the colonies, to observe the obstacles in the way of their acquiring full nationhood, to estimate the various distances they have already advanced toward self-government, and to study the active processes of education for further responsibilities that are now being pursued. Thus, I tried in a former article [i] to state some of the reasons why complete self-government could not be given tomorrow to the African colonies. I also stressed the perplexing constitutional problems that arise where European colonies have been planted among primitive African tribes, and pointed out that some British colonial problems have analogies with the situation of the Negroes in the American South. I do not wish to repeat any of these points in this article but rather to carry a little further the attempt to bring about a meeting of minds, to ask what self-government for colonies means and to give some examples both of the achievements and of the difficulties of the British in the sphere of colonial government.

Let us first consider the misconceptions which, in British eyes, seem to lead some critics of British policy onto the wrong road from the very start. The great majority of human beings have two standards in such matters, one highly indulgent, by which they judge the acts of their own nation, and the other an exacting perfectionism by which they judge the deeds of other nations. Nor is even this perfectionism wholly rational; it is often colored by subconscious prejudice and jealousy. The British are, of course, as prone to this dualism of judgment as other peoples, but criticism of America by Britain is small and intermittent in volume compared

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